I just learned this morning that one of my childhood grammar golden rules is no longer considered a rule. You can end a sentence with a preposition!!! My, oh my how I have spent minutes I can never get back trying to rephrase thoughts to reposition that pesky preposition. Freedom, finally!!!
Saw this sentence today and thought it fitting:
“This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!”
Does anyone else struggle with stuff like this, or am I alone on my grammar nazi island?
Funny you should say that. I learned the two space rule back when I learned how to type. Then I learned like you that you don’t really need two spaces, but I can’t unlearn it. So, like you, I just do it as a matter of course and say to hell with it!!!
I’d be interested to hear what your daughter has to say.
This idiotic rule was based on the idea that a preposition must precede its object. There are two problem with this. First if the object is a relative or interrogative pronoun (which, who, that,…) then that word is generally, although not always, moved to the front of the sentence or clause. Second, just as there are intransitive and transitive verbs, so with prepositions. Only intransitive prepositions care called adverbs. That’s where my grammar is at.
I just talked to her (she had left French class and was heading to lunch).
She said no, that it is still a thing (at least in academic papers and such). That most normal people do not follow it. Then she explained why it was so, I am not an English major so I sort of zoned out while she was explaining it.
The main take away for me was I am actually impressed that my daughter knows her stuff. I kind of remember the “rules” but not really why they exist. So the fact that she can actually eloquently explain why the rule exists, was impressive to me.
As for the matter at hand, I will still probably re-write sentences for work stuff, but not worry about it for regular life.
I am a database analyst, it is amazing I can write an understandable sentence at all.
Well, a sentence is a clause, so a rule against ending clauses with prepositions (if it existed) would also imply that you can’t end sentences with prepositions.
But it’s not a rule, so it doesn’t matter. A lot of people misunderstand how grammar works. You don’t learn grammar from your elementary-school teachers (or at least, mostly not). You learn it from talking with other people. All your grammar teachers tell you are descriptions of the speech patterns that you’re already using. The real grammar rules, you don’t need to be told about to follow them, because the other way just sounds wrong.
Split infinitives make for a good example. You shouldn’t split infinitives, but you don’t need to know that, because you’d never do it anyway. What most people think are split infinitives aren’t actually, and are perfectly fine. For instance, take Just Asking Questions’ sentence “The same with the ‘rule’ about to never split an infinitive.”: “never split” is a perfectly valid verb, specifically, a compound verb composed of the simple verb “split” and the adverb “never”. And the infinitive form of that compound verb is “to never split”, so there’s no split infinitive there: The “to” is right next to the verb it goes with. An actual split infinitive would be something like “the same with the ‘rule’ to about never split an infinitive”. But nobody would ever say that, because it’s ungrammatical.
Another example of a grammatical rule which isn’t usually mentioned in classes is the order of adjectives. I might describe an object as “a big red rubber ball”. But it sounds all wrong to say “a rubber red big ball”. The fact that it sounds all wrong to say it that way means that there’s a grammatical rule against it. It’s a rule that’s more difficult to formulate, since there are many different categories of adjectives, but it’s a rule nonetheless.
And they go on to quote Fowler and some other grammarians. So this is not even a case where the descriptivists and prescriptivists disagree. Everyone agrees that there is no general rule in English to avoid putting prepositions at the end of a sentence.
Well, the ‘standard’ solution would be “You can wipe that smile off your face with which to start”. I have a hard time believing anyone would seriously recommend that. “To start with, you can wipe that smile off your face” is a superficial fix but I dare say, it betrays an ignorance of the point of the rule.