Grammar and writing types: A question about prepositions. Answer needed soonest, please!

I’m in the process of collaborating on a paper, and one of my groupmates said there is a rule against starting a sentence with a preposition. I know it’s generally considered bad form to end a sentence with a preposition, but I am not aware of any rule against starting a sentence with one.

Help, please?


I am no expert by any means, but I think it can be proper to start a sentence with a preposition.

“With economic times the way they are, it might be prudent not to buy a home at this time.”
I see nothing wrong with the above sentence, and correct me if I am wrong, “with” is a preposition in this case.

“Of course, there’s always other options.”

In order to form a more perfect union, such idiotic “rules” were invented. In any event, it makes no sense. At the least, you could write several consecutive sentences beginning with prepositions. With no trouble, you could do so. From these sentences you can see yourself how silly such a rule would be.

No such rule at all. It’s not even considered bad form.

People get all sorts of strange ideas about English.

Thanks, everyone! I was pretty sure I was right, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

In other words, you agree with Churchill that such rules are the sort of impertinence up with which you will not put? :smiley:

There’s no rule. There’s a common perception that all sentences need to be short and in active voice, and leading with a prepositional phrase makes that harder to do. But if all sentences were short and in active voice, you’d be writing a Mickey Spillane detective novel, not a paper.

In fact, it does not.

To hell with such rules!

You may also end sentences with prepositions:

“She didn’t understand what he was complaining about. His written language usually followed the very rules that he crusaded against.”

“Cuddy wondered what Wilson was up to.”

Just don’t tack on unnecessary prepositions:

“Where is the English 101 class meeting at?”

Not only is it okay to begin a sentence with a preposition, some authorities are backing off of the “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition” rule. One manual (I think it was the Bedford Handbook, but my copy is out on loan) says it’s preferable not to, unless the resulting sentence is incredibly awkward.

There is no such rule in grammar. There might be a standard imposed by whatever style guide happens to be in force for a particular place, but it is not a matter of grammar at all.

However, grammarians may frown on using “soonest” when you mean “soon” :wink:

Authorities have been backing off that “rule” for at least a century.

Nope. The question had to do with a paper that was due just before midnight last night.

I remember one of my HS English teachers asked us to find a sentence in which a propositional phrase played the role of a noun and was the subject noun of the sentence. None of us could so he showed us his example: “Over the fence is out.”

I really dislike these “rules” that encode only someone’s personal prejudice. “To never split and infinitive” is my favorite non-rule. Many people complain you have split an infinitive when there is no infinitive in sight. Example: “He was badly burned.”

Incidentally, on the subject of sentence-ending propositions, my attitude is that just as there are transitive and intransitive verbs, we have transitive and intransitive prepositions, the latter functioning as adverbs. And it makes as much sense to ban sentence-ending prepositions as sentence-ending verbs.

The first sentence in Genesis, KJV:

The first sentence in the fourth Gospel, KJV:

If Jehovah/God can tell people to write that way, are we mere mortals to argue with him?

“Soonest” does have a legitimate use as a jargon-y means of defining prioritization in military usage, meaning, approximately, “(to be done) with maximum priority, as quickly as possible.” But it has turned into a solecism meaning “pretty soon.” (I doubt strongly that the national security depends on MsRobyn getting an answer to this question with utmost promptness, which is what her “soonest” would imply – not to pick on her, but to re-emphasize the distinction between legitimate and solecistic use of the term.)

And speaking of preposition-ending sentences, there was one little boy who complained about his father choice of a book about Australia for a bedtime story saying, “Why’d you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to from about Down Under up for.”

(Yes I realize Down and Under really form a compound noun here.)

…read to out of about Down Under…

Adds one!