Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

by Craig Shrives

This Page Includes...

Can I end a sentence with a preposition?

Yes. It is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.

But beware! Lots of people (nearly 1 in 5) 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. If you don't want to pander to them, then there's a better reason to avoid a preposition at the end of a sentence: your reworded sentence will probably flow better and be shorter.
  • That is a scenario I had not thought of.
  • (This is not wrong, but about 20% of your readers will dislike that it ends with a preposition. It's also sounds quite clumsy.)
  • That is a scenario I had not considered.
  • (This is sharper, and it keeps the 20% happy.)

Why do people think ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong?

The word "preposition" means "sited before." A preposition typically sits before a noun to show the noun's relationship with another nearby word. 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.

Nevertheless, 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 their prepositions are sited. Also, the so-called prepositions that accompany phrasal verbs are usually not prepositions at all, but particles.

Should I avoid using a preposition at the end of a sentence?

The short answer is yes. 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, it makes sense to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. Think of it as a game not a rule.

There are better reasons to avoid an end-sentence preposition though. Rewording your sentence often saves a word, provides a sense of formality, and creates a better-flowing sentence.
ending a sentence with a preposition

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 and to improve them.

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. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • (This is an example of a sentence that should be left with the preposition at the end.)

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

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

Page URL