Prepositions

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Prepositions

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:08 pm

Why can a sentence not end in a preposition if you have nothing else to end it with?

Kent UK
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Prepositions

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:22 pm

Dear Kent: It was John Dryden who first promulgated the doctrine that a preposition may not be used at the end of a sentence, probably on the basis of a specious analogy to Latin. Grammarians in the 18th century refined the doctrine, and the rule has since become one of the most venerated maxims of schoolroom grammar. But sentences ending with prepositions can be found in the works of most of the great writers since the Renaissance. English syntax does allow for final placement of the preposition, as in We have much to be thankful for or I asked her which course she had signed up for. Efforts to rewrite such sentences to place the preposition elsewhere can have stilted and even comical results, as Winston Churchill demonstrated when he objected to the doctrine by saying “This is the sort of English up with which I cannot put.”·Sometimes sentences that end with adverbs, such as I don't know where she will end up or It's the most curious book I've ever run across, are mistakenly thought to end in prepositions. One can tell that up and across are adverbs here, not prepositions, by the ungrammaticality of I don't know up where she will end and It's the most curious book across which I have ever run. It has never been suggested that it is incorrect to end a sentence with an adverb.


Lady Love
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:37 pm

My darling Lady Love!

Permit me, sweet damosel, to suggest that you henceforth quote your source(s). Not only will the potential issue of plagiarism be thus avoided, o carissima mia, but you may help forming young minds to make good use of useful resources in the future.

So, purely for the reference of others, Liebchen, here is the rest of the entry from which your dainty fingers plucked that juicy plum:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/7/P0530700.html

Below is the entry for 'preposition' given by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, 2000.

_Preposition_

SYLLABICATION:
prep·o·si·tion
NOUN:
abbr. prep. A word or phrase placed typically before a substantive and indicating the relation of that substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another substantive, as English at, by, with, from, and in regard to.
ETYMOLOGY:
Middle English preposicioun, from Old French preposicion, from Latin praepositi , praepositi n-, a putting before, preposition (translation of Greek prothesis), from praepositus, past participle of praep nere, to put in front : prae-, pre- + p nere, to put; see apo- in Appendix I.

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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:51 pm

Dear Erik:I was just trying to save our dear kent from the jaws of Mr.Ken G for asking a question you can very well find in a dictionary!! therefore i did quote, but may i point out it was the answer he wanted?? I don't see why fuss about it


PS. don't enjoy it so much Erik

Lady Love
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:05 pm

Ma chérie, only if you will first explain the essence of 'it' can I then decide whether or not to enjoy it, and to what extent.

Expectantly yours,
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:20 pm

And may i add the i quote "jaws" from (snatch defeat from the jaws of victory) just so you don't have to comment upon it dear Erik.....

Lady Love
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:34 pm

Dear Erik: i was just referring to your devilish answer!

Lady Love
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:49 pm

When I was in college, I worked on campus at the Financial Aids Office. When a student would come in and ask, "Where are the financial aid forms at?" my boss would reply, "Just before the 'at.'" They would usually just give him a blank stare! *G*
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:03 pm

K. Allen! That was cruel. How could he scorn the poor student at a college of which he had not graduated from?

Leif, WA, USA
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:17 pm

It reminds me of a sentence supposedly ending with the MOST prepositions. I have to explain that the sentence is spoken by a child who doesn't want a bedtime story about Australia:
"Mummy, what did you bring that book that I didn't want to be read to out of about Down Under up here for?
If I could remember the source I would quote it.
Simon Beck
London, UK
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:32 pm

I wonder if you, Simon, or you, my Lady Love child, are familiar with this one which I found at http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/hum ... tions.html ?

I lately lost a preposition; // It hid, I thought, beneath my chair, // And angrily I cried, "Perdition! // Up from out of in under there." // Correctness is my vade mecum, // And straggling phrases I abhor, // And yet I wondered, "What should he come // Up from out of in under there for?"

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Post by DJHampson » Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:47 pm

My sources indicate that Churchill wrote: "This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put." (note here : "Pedantry" and not "English" as is suggested by Lady Love)
This was in answer to a specific person who had complained about his usage of a dangling participle in and ending a sentence of a particular public document with a preposition.
I think Churchill would have clearly sided with those who believe correct English usage forbids ending a sentence with a preposition. He was simply responding with his typical good humour (with a quick note in a margin) to a rather pointless complaint.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:42 am

I don't think your comment regarding Churchill's views about ending a sentence with a preposition is borne out by the evidence, DJ. On looking through some of his writings at the Project Gutenberg website, I found numerous sentences of Churchill's that do in fact end with a preposition. Considerations of space and the patience of other visitors to the Wordwizard site impel me not reproduce them here, but if you visit the Gutenberg site you will be able to see them for yourself.

In short, it seems to me that unless one is willing to brand Winston Churchill as a pedantic hypocrite (regardless of whether or not he knew it), he did not believe what you have asserted.

Finally, I would be interested to know exactly where the quote about "the sort of pedantry up with which [he would] not put" comes from. There seem to be masses of purported quotes floating around all over the place, not least on the internet, that are attributed to all sorts of people, but for which no actual source can be pinned down. I am wondering if this happens to be another one of those. (See an earlier posting for further discussion of that phenomenon.)
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Prepositions

Post by tony h » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:33 pm

Surely WC comments are to be taken as a a view that it is good practice but that a pedantic adherence to the rule is unreasonable.
One problem with WC's quotes is that he did reuse and refine them over time so that you can often find it difficult to find the version committed to the public memory.
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Prepositions

Post by DJHampson » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:35 pm

Thanks for posting, Erik. (This may turn out to be fun.)

You'd have to tell me to which writings on Gutenberg you refer. I did read his "River War" there fairly recently...using it as an example you'd have to keep in mind that he wrote this before the turn of the century. Basically he was a young cavalry officer. "River War" is highly recommendable if you want to grasp the reality of those moments in history, and perhaps our present moment in history, but it doesn't represent the level of writing ability reached by Churchill in the future.

I would never brand Winston Churchill as anything but an immensely capable and prolific man who faced up to reality far better than did his peers.

I think my statement that Churchill would defend correct English usage is sound. How many examples can you give of people who got more use out of the English language? Who used it more meaningfully? Have you read his memoirs on the Second World War or his work on Marlborough.? His official instructions? His correspondence? His speeches? It is pedantry to think the form more important than the content or function of the writing.
I must apologise but I cannot recall with exactitude just where I read the quote. Hopefully someone else here will know exactly. Then we could grind out the absolute truth of his intentions fairly easily.
Churchill wrote out speeches, commendations, orders for supplies and requisitions, personal correspondence, military orders, official documents with a speed and efficacy that dwarf the feeble writing efforts of the rest of us. His mind worked too quickly to possibly allow him to absorb all his hanging participles or terminal prepositions. My understanding is that it was on a minute from a clerk or minor public official calling attention to his misuse of English in a public document that he scribbled in the margin the little note I think I reproduced correctly. Given the responsibilities I believe he supported at the time, his ability to write out this humorous note...and I think his ONLY intention was humour...is as admirable as are so many of his other personal qualities.
I believe writing English correctly to be of great importance. At the same time I have far too much to do to proofread anything I write or even reread it, so I'm fairly certain that what I write abounds in errors. That I make errors does not indicate that I do not BELIEVE in correct usage.
I am appalled at the language use in the press, on the web, etc. Newscasters, leaving aside that much of what they say is absolutely untrue, often SAY exactly the opposite of what they intend. On the web, people who have an obvious desire to escape from their ignorance spend hours at it but cannot as much as ask an intelligible question! The Prime Ministers of today are veritable intellectual invalids. Their professional speechwriters cannot achieve in 72 hours what Churchill could scratch out in a pressured hour. And those who cannot write obviously cannot read. Which explains the incompetence in managing domestic and foreign affairs of today's politicians (and their counselors), and the problems so many people demonstrate in managing their daily lives. Politically we repeat errors that are clearly marked in human history because, effectively, no one reads that history any longer.
If we do not begin to defend at least the intelligibility of the English language, I can only see this situation becoming worse.
Let me thank you, too, for the accurate observation that their are masses of purported quotes floating around. It is also true that many real quotes (and facts) are disappearing thanks to the efforts, apparently well paid, of the politically correct.
I am sorry but I can only say I believe I recall that this particular quote appears among the volumes by Churchill on the Second World War. When I read, however, I tend not to take notes. I may well have recopied it from a non-original source later. I may be confused as to the source. I do hope someone with a better memory (or better study habits) can jump in here.
And thanks, Erik, for that link to the earlier posting. Why does it remind me of the last efforts of Oriana Fallaci?
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