Let Sentences End Naturally

The second question is May I end a sentence with a preposition? In academic writing, you would never end a sentence with a preposition, but in conversation and in business writing, it is considered acceptable.

When asked if he considered it all right to end a sentence with a preposition, Sir Winston Churchill is credited with saying, "There are certain things up with which I will not put." His point, of course, is that it's absurd to not say, "There are certain things I will not put up with." Allowing the sentence to end with a preposition is often the best decision because it is the structure that sounds most natural. And as discussed above, if you would speak it in a professional interaction, you can feel comfortable writing it.

In making the decision to end your sentence with a preposition, read your sentence aloud while considering what points you intend to emphasize. In the example that follows, the writer needs to decide whether to create a formal or an informal tone. Both sentences are acceptable.

Option One (conversational, informal)

I'm trying to discover which station Paula's interview appeared on.

Option Two (conversational, formal)

I'm trying to discover on which station Paula's interview appeared.

Which do you prefer? The less formal or the more formal alternative? If you decide to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, be certain that you don't create an awkward or stilted tone.

Karl, a landscape architect, explains, "I realized that many short statements and questions are best written with a preposition at the end. I used to drive myself crazy trying to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. Now, it's much easier to write. For instance, on my website, I have a section for frequently asked questions.

"Instead of 'Of what is compost made?' I wrote 'What is compost made of?' for instance. Another section of the website explains and recommends gardening tools. At first, I was concerned about titling it 'Tools You'll Want to Work With,' but it sounded right, so I went with it."

For further information about tricky situations involving prepositions, see Appendix B.

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