Exploring Writing Myths – Session 3

Myth 3: You must not end a sentence with a preposition

prepo

A few fossils believe that a sentence is bad if it ends in a preposition. According to them, these are ungrammatical:

There are certain values we must all be prepared to stand up for.

…the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. (Shakespeare)

The council decided this was the right system to invest in.

You do not have to complete this section if you prefer not to.

What are you talking about?

It’s true that the first could be recast as:

There are certain values for which we must all be prepared to stand up.

But this would still annoy anyone who thinks ‘up’ is a preposition here (actually it’s a particle attached to the verb). There is no point changing a sentence that reads well, sounds right and says what the writer wants to say, just because it contravenes the myth. Sometimes sentences ending in prepositions do need to be recast, but this is because they read awkwardly, not because they break a rule. These sentences, for example, come to a feeble end:

Get clean photocopies of the forms you want to make changes to. Make sure there is enough white space to mark your alterations on.

Better to write:

Get clean photocopies of the forms you want to change. Make sure there is enough white space for marking your alterations.

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