Section 6.5

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

As with the split-infinitive debate, opposition to ending a sentence with a preposition originated in Latin grammar, which does not allow for that possibility. The argument over this issue began centuries ago and has been perplexing people ever since.

Even Winston Churchill was reportedly criticized for ending sentences with prepositions. His ostensible reply: “That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.”

You may end sentences with prepositions if putting the preposition elsewhere would recreate the grammatical contortions of Churchill’s jest. If it is not essential for the sake of sentence structure, there are often more interesting and elegant ways to end a sentence, but it is unecessary to struggle as mightily against the concluding preposition as many people do.

For example, suppose you are emailing your colleague about a particular book. There is no reason to avoid a sentence like this one, which ends in a preposition:

That’s the book I was telling you about!

The sentence above is certainly less awkward than the following, which moves the preposition away from the end:

That’s the book about which I was telling you!