Monday, December 3, 2012

Grammar Manners: Prepositions

Since we all love Mondays and we all love Grammar and the minutes of writing, Mondays are hereafter dedicated to things we'd rather leave in the dark. Might as well start the week with a kick in the pants. I'll bring to you the mistakes I see all the time as an agent (or just a concerned English Major) and things I think writers should just know. Tips will range from first-grade knowledge of the English language to Master's Degree expertise.
borrowed from Corner LOL

Question: Are we allowed to end sentences with prepositions?

Answer: Who the hell cares?

Okay, somebody cares. I never give this much thought. It goes under the umbrella of "write well", which is self-explanatory, right? Right? Er... Well, not once when editing or reading mss did I think, "This could be a best seller, if only that sentence didn't end with a preposition."

The "rule" never end a sentence with a preposition is completely misleading. Because it is extremely simple to fix, you simply end the sentence with something else. See image to the right.

Okay, so before we continue on, let's answer a related question (that, btw, no one has asked me... the writers get cookies).

Question: What is a preposition?

Answer: Anything an evil squirrel can do with a box. (Warning: the image below may contain violent content and may not be suitable for young children, women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant, anyone with heart or nervous disorders.)

borrowed from Outside My Window
In, Out, Around, Over, Under, Through, etc etc.

The Preposition Song, sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle (and find a full list of Prepositions here):

above, across, after, at,

around, before, behind,

below, beside, between,

by, down, during, for, from,

in, inside, onto, of,

off, on, out, through,

to, under, up, with
Well, okay, that's all fun. Now we know what a preposition is.

That's half the battle. Look at a page in your manuscript. Are all of your sentences ending with prepositions? Does an evil squirrel show up every time your plot needs some excitement? Does every one of your characters lift an eyebrow to show emotion? My point being, you need variety and you need to be self aware of everything you do. Know the rules so you can break them.

Happy writing!


Unknown said...

"Know the rules so you can break them."

Well said!

Eric Steinberg said...

Thanks for covering this. I've been thinking about grammar rules lately probably more than is normal.

Reading about the origins of the no sentence ending propositions rule makes for some interesting reading when you can't sleep

I've recently moved on to split infinitives. Not being an English major, they didn't catch my attention until recently when MS Word kept telling me I was using them.

Thanks again for the great post...and I love the illustrations and the song. (btw chasing squirrels is fun.)

Mart Ramirez said...

Excellent advice! Thank you, Vicki!

Kay L. McCray said...

"Since we all love Mondays and we all love Grammar..." Oh, the sarcasm!

I loved this post. Thanks for the giggle. I'm definitely looking forward to more.