May 21, 2011

Dear Trader Joe's

Your newsletter is called "The Fearless Flyer," but when it comes to grammar judgments, you're everything but. 

Your promise that you know that "it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition" is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which linguists will not put. (This -- purposefully ungrammatical -- phrase is famously attributed to Winston Churchill, but according to Ben Zimmer it may very well just be an anecdote.)  It is perfectly fine in English to prepose a noun phrase and end a sentence on a preposition (the construction is called "preposition stranding"). Think about it: Would you rather say "What are you looking at?" or "At what are you looking?" The second sentence sounds much more formal and also a bit clumsy, the first one is much more natural. 

(Read more about preposition stranding vs. pied piping on Language Log.)

It cannot be said often enough: There is no rule against ending a sentence on a preposition in English. That's where it's at. Just ask Sam Cooke.

No comments: