Are You Really Not Allowed to End a Sentence with a Preposition?

Cathy Rogers

Technically speaking, it is not always incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition, although, in most cases, sentences can be rewritten to avoid a preposition at the end. The only time you absolutely should not put a preposition at the end a sentence is when there is no direct object.

Ending a sentence with a proposition is usually acceptable during a casual conversation to help avoid confusion.
Ending a sentence with a proposition is usually acceptable during a casual conversation to help avoid confusion.

Upon first glance, it may seem that some words at the end of a sentence are prepositions, when in fact they are parts of the verb. For example, a sentence ending with "put up" or "put up with" is not grammatically incorrect. In these cases, "up" and "up with" are adverbial particles.

In general, it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition to avoid confusion or as part of casual conversation and writing. For example, it is acceptable to write or say “Where are you from?” While it could be reworded, it would be awkward and extremely formal to say “From where are you?”

It’s a common myth that the English language contains a rule banning prepositions at the end of a sentence, although Latin does have such a rule. In a few cases, it is undesirable to end a sentence with a preposition. In the case of a very long sentence, the ending preposition could be quite a distance from its object, making the sentence confusing.

A common story regarding ending sentences with prepositions involves Winston Churchill. An editor changed a sentence he wrote so that it did not end with preposition. Churchill’s rebuttal was something like this: "This is the kind of impertinence up with which I shall not put." Sources disagree on the actual quote, but the idea remains that Churchill believed it was unnecessary to rearrange the structure of a sentence to avoid ending with a preposition.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think my newest grammar checker program even flags things like ending a sentence with a preposition. I think part of the problem is that English follows two different types of sentence structures. One style requires that prepositional phrases end sentences: "I am going to the store". The other style allows sentences to end on verbs: "If he's going to the store, I'm not going." Sometimes it's easier to create a hybrid of the two structures: "Who are you going to the store with?"


When I was growing up, my English teachers always marked off for ending a sentence with a preposition. If we answered a question in class and ended our sentence with a preposition, they would also reprimand us and make us reword our answer correctly. The command "do not end a sentence with a preposition" was drilled into us for years.

My grandson asked me to proofread an English term paper and I noticed he ended quite a few sentences with prepositions. There were a lot of sentences like "I don't know who he hangs with." and "Where's he going to?". I said something about not ending sentences that way, and he said his teacher doesn't really enforce any rules about prepositions. She thinks it's better to be clear than to be too formal. I have to say I agree, but it's a hard habit to break after all these years.

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