What are prepositions and can you end a sentence with one?

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Prepositions are words that show location (both physical and in time) and often lead into prepositional phrases. For example:

“My cat is lying under the table.”

In the above example, “under” is the preposition while “table” is the object of the preposition. This makes “under the table” this sentence’s prepositional phrase (which answers questions such as “how?”, “what?”, “where?”, and “who?”).

Seems easy enough, right? The preposition tells us where the cat is.

Well let’s mix it up a bit. Here’s a more complicated example:

“According to my mother, my car is parked in the spot where I left it.”

If you say “in” is the preposition of the sentence, you’re right. But only halfway. That’s because “according to” is also a preposition. “According to” is the first preposition because it tells us who told the narrator where her car was.

Preposition Dispute

Many agree that ending a sentence with a preposition is okay, while others argue that one may never do so in formal writing. For example:

Correct: “With whom are we going?”

Incorrect: “Who are we going with?”

Correct: “Make sure you receive that to which you are entitled.”

Incorrect: “Make sure you receive what you are entitled to.”

Chances are you use the latter version in most cases, especially when speaking. And for many people, that’s just fine. Just make sure your writing is consistent with whichever version you choose.

We realize that this is but a short synopsis of how to use a preposition; we recommend checking out Towson University’s post on prepositions to learn more.

Come back next week to learn more about infinitives and check out last week’s post about semicolons. And as always, if you need help writing, call us at 888-521-3880.