Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Good to be Queen

Gretchen: Regina, you're wearing sweatpants. It's Monday.
Regina: So...?
Karen: So that's against the rules, and you can't sit with us.
Regina: Whatever. Those rules aren't real.
Karen: They were real that day I wore a vest!
Regina: Because that vest was disgusting!

Regina George is not the only person who established arbitrary rules and then proceeded to break them. So did this guy:

(No, his rule was not that one must not fashion one’s hairdo after a poodle.)

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is Robert Lowth, the guy who’s responsible for the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition.

A preposition is a part of speech that indicates the relationship, usually spatial or temporal, of one word to another. Some common examples are:

at, by, for, into, off, on, out, over, to, under, up, with

And, then look what he goes and writes:

"This is an idiom which our language is strongly inclined to.”

That’s right- he ended a sentence with a preposition. It’s kind of like when Rush Limbaugh said, “If people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”

So, what’s the deal? Should we say no to ending a sentence with a preposition?

The consensus is not necessarily, but we must use judgment.

Here are some sentences that sound fine with a preposition at the end:

Did you see that vest she had on?
Take that vest off!
At least put on this jacket to cover it up!

But, here are some that sound sloppy:

What are you wearing that ugly vest for?
Where did you get that horrible vest at?

The first one should be rewritten:

Why are you wearing that ugly vest?

The second one should just drop the at because it’s unnecessary:

Where did you get that horrible vest?

I'm assumng this is the vest:

It kinds of reminds me of Robert Lowth's hair.



keppi baranick said...

brilliant, as usual.

Janet Johnson said...

LOL. Love the picture. And the conversation.:)

And I agree . . . one of those rules that is fine to break every now and then.

Wendy Ramer said...

As a college ESL professor who also teaches this stuff, I'm all for ending a sentence with a preposition if it's called for. (You see what I did?) Found your blog because I loved your name!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

What is Winston Churchill supposed to have said?
"Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."

In writing realistic dialogue, the dangling preposition is invaluable.

Have a good Memorial Weekend, Roland

Talli Roland said...

What a guy! *bows down to him*

I'm all about rules but I agree with Roland - it does sound super-awkward in dialogue.

Culture Served Raw said...

Ok I've just read a handful of your posts in the last half hour and have to say I am addicted! Funny, smart and entertaining. Good stuff!


Yana Olson said...

It is necessary to know grammar, and it is better to write grammatically than not, but it is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated.

Grammar check