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Monday, November 07, 2005

What did you bring this subject which I'm not interested in up for? 

For a long time, I have been one of those condescending people always correcting others for what I assumed to be bad grammar. I had some pet phrases like, "Now what do you want to go and end a sentence with a preposition for?" or "prepositions are not for ending sentences with."

Come to find out, not only was I dreadfully annoying, I was also dead wrong. The preponderance of evidence stands against me to say that this "rule" was spawned by an attempt by 18th century Church of England Bishop and Oxford University poetry professor Robert Lowth to critique the English language by applying Latin grammar to it. Misguided as he may have been, he stopped short of any dogmatic ruling on the issue, merely suggesting that the "...placing of the Preposition before the Relative is more graceful, as well as more perspicuous; and agrees much better with the solemn and elevated Style."

So now, I repent in dust and ashes. No longer will the (dubiously attributed) words of Winston Churchill ring in my head, "this is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put." Just please don't ask me, "where's the bathroom at?"

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Not ending sentences with prepositions is funner, though, because the resulting sentences are more amusing.
When I was a kid I thought that you weren't supposed to end a sentence with a prepositional phrase and wondered how anyone could always avoid that.



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