Parts of Speech: Dangling prepositions

October 5, 2006: Issue 159

Despite those stern warnings you got in grammar school, you may end a sentence with a preposition. Just don’t let it dangle.

A dangling preposition is one that has no object.

incorrect: Where is she at?
incorrect: He wanted a cabinet deep enough to store large pots in.

In those cases, you can delete the preposition without changing meaning.

   correct: Where is she?
correct: He wanted a cabinet deep enough to store large pots.

A preposition at the end of a sentence is fine as long as it has an object. Sometimes that placement is best for conversational style or for emphasis.

correct: Enjoy color all year, no matter what climate you live in.
correct: That kind of help they could do without.

The test is whether you can rearrange the words in the sentence to put the object after the preposition. (Enjoy color all year, no matter in what climate you live. They could do without that kind of help.) If you can, your sentence is grammatically sound.

Back to Style on the Go Archive
Back to BHG Stylebook Table of Contents