Preposition

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Towards more picturesque speech


Sherwood Forest — where this Robin Hood is at —yesterday


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A preposition is a word, like “with” or “to” or “of”, with which you should not end a sentence — if you’re speaking Latin. Since you won’t be, you may put your preposition wherever you damn well please. Like the pendant’s aversion to the split infinitive, the stricture that “one should not end a sentence with a preposition” is a bogus grammatical rule to boldly be dismissive of.

Prepositions do the important but prosaic job of putting nouns and pronouns in relation to each other — “the cat sat on the mat”; “the sub-custodian droned on about gross negligence” and so on — so you have your work cut out if you want to put one at the end a sentence anyway. But, by all means, try to.

Whether or not they end sentences with them, lawyers can still have plenty of fun with prepositions. The easiest upgrade is to substitute normal prepositions with compound ones, cobbled together out of nouns, conjunctions and the other tiring flotsam and jetsam of the English language.

One can also deploy misplaced prepositions to catch out humble-braggers and, at the same time, shame them as preposition pedants, using the handy cut-out-and-keep guide below.

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How to deal with a preposition pedant

From an etiquette perspective, there is only one way of dealing with a preposition pedant, and it is as set out in the following dramatisation:

SCENE: Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. An INNOCENT tourist, whom we expect hails from the Mid-West, accosts a local rambler. Little beknown to him, the rambler is a PEDANT.
Innocent: Say: where’s this Robin Hood at?
Pedant: You know, you really shouldn’t put a preposition at the end of a sentence.
Innocent: All right, then. (clears throat) Say: where’s this Robin Hood at, asshole?