Ending a sentence in a preposition

The Quick Answer
It is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. However, lots of people still consider it an error. Therefore, to ensure you don't annoy those readers, you should consider avoiding a preposition at the end of your sentence. Also, it is likely that your reworded sentence will flow better and be shorter.

Ending a sentence with a preposition

A preposition typically sits before a noun to show the noun's relationship with another nearby word. The word preposition means sited before. So, as prepositions are designed to sit before nouns, there is some logic to the ruling that a preposition can't be at the end of a sentence. After all, prepositions are meant to sit before things.

That said, it is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition – not least because the preposition is often part of a phrasal verb (e.g., to blow up, put up with, go over), and phrasal verbs have their own rules for where the integral prepositions are sited.

None of this might be relevant though. If one of your readers thinks you can't end a sentence with a preposition and you have, then it's wrong in that reader's mind. So, to keep everyone happy, try to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. Think of it as a game not a rule. Also, avoiding a preposition at the end of a sentence often saves a word, provides a sense of formality, and creates a better-flowing sentence.

Some "wrong" examples for us to fix

Here are some examples of sentences ending with prepositions. Remember that these are not technically wrong, but we've marked them as wrong because, in the eyes of those who think you can't end a sentence with a preposition, they are.
  • That is a situation I have not thought of.
  • (The word of is a preposition.)
  • She is a person I cannot cope with.
  • (The word with is a preposition.)
  • It is behaviour I will not put up with.
  • (This example ends in two prepositions: up and with.)
Our job is to make these sentences correct for everyone.

Re-structured sentences usually sound contrived.

The re-structured version often sounds contrived and unnatural. For example:
  • That is a situation of which I have not thought.
  • She is a person with whom I cannot cope.
  • It is behaviour up with which I will not put.
These examples (especially the last one) sound extremely contrived. None of them warrants a tick, even though they now don't end in prepositions.

Reworded sentences often sound better.

Often, the best solution is to re-word the sentence. For example:
  • That is a situation I have not considered.
  • She is a person I cannot handle.
  • It is behaviour I will not tolerate.
There are no prepositions in these sentences, and they all have the same meaning. They're shorter, they sound more formal, and they all flow better. These sentences deserve those ticks.

Just leave the preposition at the end.

If the sentence sounds too contrived after it has been reworded and you don't want to pander to those who don't like prepositions at the end of sentences, then another option is to leave the preposition at the end of the sentence.
  • There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. (Oscar Wilde)
  • (This is an example of a sentence that should be left with the preposition at the end.)

See Also

What are prepositions? The object of a preposition Verbs with prepositions - succinct writing