Is it true that you can't end a sentence with a preposition?

[color=blue]Is it true that you can not end a sentence with a preposition? well at least in formal ways. if true what about this one: “I will pick you up at seven” or should I say: “I will pick up you at seven” It sounds awful doesn’t it?

[size=150]What ya think? :?: :?: :evil: :twisted: [/size]

Ummm :roll:

Well, it is true that you should not end a sentence with a preposition. That would be something like: “I’m going to the cinema today.” - “Oh! Who are you going with?” - You should not do that in written language.
The two sentences you wrote, however
a) are both the same
b) do not end with a preposition :wink:

:smiley: Sunny

Sunny! It’d be ‘Whom are you going with.’ Not that this is usually practiced in the spoken form of English. You’ll see it in written, however.

And rich7 it’s ‘I’ll pick you up at seven’ don’t ask me why I’m only fluent in English; I can’t teach it, yet.

Of course you can end a sentense with a preposition, it’s very common in english:
What are you talking about?
What are you driving at?
whom did you speak to?

i agree with the idea of using prep at the end of the sentence…
ex:who is the one i should ask about??
i think it s a kind of ellipsis :roll: :?:

That seems a little overboard.

Try: Whom should I ask about?

Or: Whom should I ask to?

It’s actually supposed to be arranged like this:

“With whom are you going?” and “To whom are you talking?” where the preposition comes first and the sentence ends on a verb or gerund.

In conversation it’s different though. “Who are you talking to?” is perfectly acceptable in common language–just not in formal writing.


It’s strange how people say you can’t say this/you can’t do that. Language is a living organism - it’s possible to do what you like with it. The only point is if you want to be understood, say/write it clearly. Prepositions at the end of the sentence? Why not? Who says you can’t?


This is the way I learnt it, too.

I’m going to use your comments more than once in my classes, Alan, if you don’t mind. In fact, your statement “Language is a living organism - it’s possible to do what you like with it” has just become a favourite motto of mine :slight_smile: .

In my heart I totaly agree with You guys, but my mind whispers not to.
Why would we need this forum, if we could say whatever we want?
I’m not sure I speak proper english just because people understand me.
Anyway, if I’d like to know if a rule is true, or not, I have to ask a native speaker, because they feel the language,and that can’t be learnt like rules in math.
I have friends who teach english in Hungary, they just say what they’ve been taught with no mercy,and if I ask why I couldn’t say this,or that, they say just because that’s the rule.(many times I’d put the questions up the forum, and according to you in 50% I WAS right, although I don’t even know what preposition is)
If a native speaker says anything about their own language, I believe it, but if someone else tells me NOT TO say this,or that ,I’d say:let’s ask a native!

Hi Spencer,

Incidentally I had the pleasure of spending a few days in your country last month. We stayed in Budapest and found everyone so friendly and helpful and even if they couldn’t speak English (and most did) they actually escorted us to the place we wanted to go to. I particularly liked one response from a young family man who when we asked him if he spoke English, replied: ‘Yes, very well’. And he did. too.

But back to the point. I hope I didn’t appear flippant in my response about rules and correctness in English. The point I wanted to make was that sometimes it is all too easy to be restricted in either writing and speaking because of so-called rules that very often stem from the study and use of Latin and really have no relevance to English, which is a language you can take liberties with. Now take that last sentence of mine:
which is a language you can take liberties with Purists would say I can’t end the sentence with the preposition with. What I say is this is perfectly acceptable. In fact rather than say this is wrong that is right I prefer to say what is acceptable and what is not. I am reminded of something said by Winston Churchill, who apart from being a politician was also a Nobel prizewinner for literature and when challenged for putting a preposition at the end of a sentence, said: This is something up with which I will not put and this showed how that rule can make you sound ridiculous.

Please keep on sending questions on the forum and I’ll try and not be so flippant next time.


Here’s my two cents worth: :wink:

As Mosteque and Dead at Heart (what a name!) and especially Alan mentioned, of course you can end a sentence with a preposition! Native speakers do this all the time. Even in written English. It’s quite normal. The Churchill example that Alan mentioned is also well-known in the U.S. and it’s always been a favorite of mine. I just love it! It’s so exquisitely bad that it’s hilarious — even though it’s grammatically correct. Churchill’s sentence sounds ridiculous and absurd because it’s so completely unnatural — which was precisely Churchill’s point. … id=388#put

Also, the word ‘whom’ is dying in English. In reality, it’s rarely used nowadays except in extremely formal English (emphasis on extremely!). For example, in the sentence “Who are you talking to?”, the word ‘who’ is grammatically incorrect. Technically speaking, you should use the word ‘whom’. But if a native speaker said “Whom are you talking to?” I would probably ask myself what I’d done wrong to cause such an extremely formal question. I would ask myself, why the person was being so extremely formal rather than friendly or “normal”.

Regarding phrasal verbs (verb and preposition), many of them can be split or not split when using a noun as the object. It’s your choice. However they must be split if you use a pronoun. The example that rich7 used - ‘pick up’ - is a good example. You can say “I’ll pick up John at seven”, or “I’ll pick John up at seven” or “I’ll pick him up at seven”. However, you cannot say “I’ll pick up him at seven” .

By the way, I didn’t find your answer flippant, just plain good advice. :smiley:


I don’t think You’ve ever been flippant to anyone in this forum!
Your point of view about NOT taking the rules too seriously is exactly what I was trying to say.
If a native speaker as you are, feels like this, or that is a bit awkward, then I accept it,and this is the reason why I don’t care about rules.
So You had a great time here?
I’m really happy to hear that people were nice to you, and it must’ve been partly because of You.
I mean, people here don’t smile at each other for no reason,
but if you are nice,you’ll have a good time.