Thursday, November 1, 2007

Part Two: With What Do You End a Sentence?

Verbs that include a preposition, phrasal verbs, pose another problem. Check the bottom third of Get It Write On-line’s page on prepositions at the end of sentences for a good set of examples. I suggest that you either include such verbs earlier in the sentence or use a different verb altogether. “Explode” replaces “blow up” and formalizes the sentence at the same time. While using that verb at the end of sentence does not constitute a grammatical error, it will raise a flag to grammar sticklers and distract them from your point.

Many of these verbs require an object. If you are checking out, either you need to check out something or you need to check out of something, or both. Include the object after the verb and you eliminate the problem of the dangling preposition. Instead of Churchill’s things “up with which he will not put” you could “not put up with such things” because you “put up” “with” something.

Phrasal verb prepositions don’t belong at the end of a sentence because your reader needs more information. Put the object closer to the related preposition to improve the clarity of your sentence, as well as to remove the distraction of ending that sentence with the dreaded preposition.

I am not suggesting that dangling a lone preposition in front of a period makes you a poor writer. I have done it and I’ll do it again. But I do want to point out that, regardless of popular opinion, doing so creates one more distraction for your readers. Unless you do so for emphasis, avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.