Friday, November 1, 2013

Please Let Me End a Sentence with a Preposition

Note to readers:  We will be working to improve this site and making it more reflective of who we are and what we find to be important.  I like basketball, and I like the effect it can have on people.  But the Augusta Metros (more on that name and that community to come) community values much more than basketball only.  We began this site with the goal of making it an online place for the people in our community to talk and write and create media that shares our beliefs about citizenship and making our respective ways in the world.  So if you think this post (and this one) is out of place for this site, I hope the site will change into something that appears to be the right home for it.  (But don't think I am abandoning basketball.  Far from that!)

Whether I am posting something on this site, writing an email, updating a social media account, speaking, or writing a text message, I try to communicate effectively.  Proper grammar and usage is important.  When people read misspelled words or incorrect grammar, they form an opinion about the source and often discredit the content of the message because of the improper form.  So while writing a recent post and ending a sentence by referring to "the players I work with," the mental alarms went off alerting me not to end the sentence with a preposition.

But the phrase "the players with whom I work" has never seemed natural or pleasant to the ear to me.  So I've been pleased to recently learn that ending a sentence with a preposition may not necessarily be bad form.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, the Grammar Girl, and Grammar Monster, the "rule" banning prepositions at the end of sentences is not believed to be valid by grammarians, the people who spend their lives on such matters.

But Mignon Fogarty's (the "Grammar Girl" herself) advice to not use this newly found freedom and wisdom to stop changing sentences into groups of words that sound funny together in order to follow this rule when composing a resume is instructive.  Writing effectively, and according the "rules," is important in gaining credibility.  Besides, the point of communicating is to convey a message.  And the message need not be tainted because the sender and the grammarian agree on a grammar rule while the receiver doesn't.

But William Strunk Jr.'s advice to first know the rules before breaking them may give hope to those of us who wish to spare our audience's ear by ending certain sentences with prepositions.  If we write well enough in all/most other circumstances, our readers may give us the benefit of the doubt when we break this "rule."

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