Southern New Hampshire University
When I was in elementary school we were taught never to end a sentence with a preposition. Frank L. Visco wrote a list of rules published in the June 1986 issue of Writers’ Digest that back ups my teachers’ instruction with humor —
“2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with” (Visco).
So, with Mr. Visco and numerous teachers cheering me on I have developed a strong dislike for prepositions finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Prepositions describe time, place and movement (Prepositions: Locators in Time and Place). Properly used we know that the train is due at 5 p.m., your brother is coming to town on Sunday, and that my son-in-law likes to run outside in the fall. The words to and toward express movement. We can drive to the game together, or we can take a step toward the edge of a cliff. For and since help us measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years.
I have worked for the Pine Bluffs Post for four years.
I have been the publisher since 2010. The problem with the hard and fast rule for ending sentences with prepositions is that sometimes a sentence is awkward if the preposition is in the middle of the sentence. Which of these is easier to read? What did you put that there for? For what reason did you put that there?
Modern English (which evidently came into being while I was raising my children) no longer bans prepositions at the end of sentences. “Ending a sentence with a preposition is a perfectly natural part of the structure of modern English” (Ending sentences with prepositions). That said, I cannot abide by one prepositional misplacement — Where at.
Over the course of this class, I have observed a large number of examples of people using the word at after the word where. When I got to 150 I had to stop counting. I found offenders everywhere. I heard this in stores, restaurants and on the radio.
At church one Saturday night the pastor asked, “Where are your Bibles at?” At the other church I attend that pastor asked, “Where’s my mic at?” Both were cringe- worthy events.
I turned on the local news to hear an anchor query, “If you want to know where the new store will be located at, see our website for details.” National news broadcasts were no exception as I heard this on HLN, “The people want to know where their money’s at.”
The problem with this usage is the use of at is redundant. The correct versions should be “Where are your Bibles?”, Where is my mic?”, and “The people want to know where their money is.” The sentence from our local newscast is just plain wrong in many ways.
Dr. Drew Pinsky even got in on the action during the “Teen Mom 2” reunion show. (Why do I feel I need to explain watching that show?) Dr. Drew is a professor, so it can be assumed he attended school for quite a few years. I know no one is perfect, but in this show he is dealing with young people. I expect a good example to be set. Instead we hear, “I’m just trying to figure out where you’re at.”
“When you could leave off the preposition and it wouldn’t change the meaning, you should leave it off” (Fogarty). In the examples above, the sentences all can be used minus the word at and there would be no change in meaning.
While it seems to be common thought that uneducated people use at after where, that is obviously not true when we see examples coming from educated professionals. In general, the context in which this occurs is in informal settings. For instance, while it was on a…