Ending a Sentence With a Preposition

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Getting started

Many people still get caught up in the propriety or impropriety of ending a sentence with a preposition. More recent usage rules allow for sentences that end in prepositions, so perhaps grammar sometimes goes the way of styles in other areas of life; one generation condones it, but the next may frown upon it. Most writers, however, learned in grade school that ending a sentence with a preposition would result in big red marks on their papers.

How do you do it?

Sometimes it seems almost impossible not to commit this seemingly egregious error. If you have to reconstruct your sentence so as not to end it with a preposition, it can take on some really awkward qualities. So do you sacrifice style for correct grammar usage?

INCORRECT: Mr. Fixit recently tried to reduce his overhead costs and laid off some of his workers, so he had no one but himself to depend on.

CORRECT: Mr. Fixit recently tried to reduce his overhead costs and laid off some of his workers, so he had no one but himself on which to depend.

Fixing the seemingly unfixable

When you edit someone else’s writing, or sometimes even your own writing, and detect a problem with a preposition at the end of a sentence, an alarm may sound, an alarm from years of inculcation at the hands of strict English teachers. You then find yourself stuck with the problem of how to fix the problem. In these situations, you may have to think of a completely new way to set up the sentence.

INCORRECT: Mr. Fixit had soiled all of his regular blue work overalls, so the red ones remained as the only ones he could find to put on.

CORRECT: Mr. Fixit had soiled all of his regular blue work overalls, so he decided to wear the red ones today.