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Video transcript

hello grammarians today I want to talk about ending sentences with prepositions and I want to tell you straight up it is totally okay like it is perfectly grammatically correct and sensible and fine to end sentences with prepositions in English and if you don't know what I mean that's fine let me let me throw out some examples like it's a crazy world we live in for example is a sentence that ends in in which is a preposition and for years for hundreds of years there have been people language authorities that have been telling you it's not okay to end a sentence with a preposition let me tell you by the power vested in me it is totally okay this is one of those language superstitions that will not die taking away the terminal preposition takes away sentences like that's not behavior all put up with and in fact some of you have maybe heard the statement that is supposedly attributed to Winston Churchill where he says that is something with which up I will not put which kind of emphasizes how clunky that is you know if that's supposed to be formal high language it sounds really inarticulate not a fan this is ultimately a question not of grammar but of style because there's nothing there's nothing about it's a crazy world we live in that doesn't make sense that doesn't function as a sentence indeed there's nothing grammatically incorrect with you know this is behavior with which up I will not put it's just needlessly verbose and twisting back on itself for the sake of avoiding something that doesn't need to be avoided we can trace all of this back to Robert loathe a man who was the Bishop of London during part of the 18th century and he wrote about terminal prepositions in his 1762 short introduction to English grammar which reads in part quote this is an idiom which our language is strongly inclined to it prevails in common conversation and suits very well with the familiar style in writing but the placing of the preposition before the relative is more graceful and agrees much better with the solemn and elevated style but bishop loathe may I direct your attention to this part of your statement this is an idiom which our language is strongly inclined to even when Bishop loath is using what he calls this solemn and elevated style he himself cannot avoid ending a clause boom with a preposition game set match sir the question is why did loath have such a bee in his bonnet about prepositions at the end of sentences and the answer can be found in Latin follow me over to the next grade here is the deal with Latin in Latin prepositions have a very particular function similar to how they work in English but let's let's break apart what the word preposition is in Latin the word preposition comes from pray pose ETO which means placed before writer placed before because here's something cool about Latin Latins word order rules are different than English's word order rules I'll explain you know in English we have this expression to put the cart before the horse which means to embark on a project before you're really ready and this is a very ancient expression in fact um one that can be attested in Latin like so on tech um component a right okay so this is before the horse the cart to put here's the thing about prepositions in Latin is that in Latin this ante before always has to go has to be positioned before the word it's attached to so before the horse but in Latin you can rearrange this sentence any way you like so you could say Karim ponente on to equina and just because of the way Latin works because of its case endings and and because of this prepositional relationship we can always tell no matter what order the words are in how the sentence parts relate to one another or we could also switch around pull in a column on two equi right like it could go in any order as long as ante was before equal now admittedly in English if you wanted to end this with a preposition it would still sound pretty awkward like the cart is the thing that the horse is before but it is still grammatical if you move this thing if you move on teh out of order there's no way to tell what's going on in the sentence Latin during the time that loth was Bishop of London was the language of scholarship right it was this language that enabled people all over the European continent to communicate with each other in a common language of knowledge it was the language of religion and philosophy and all of that added up to make Latin really cool and also very powerful and because of the history of the English language which basically entails people in boats coming over the North Sea to beat the tar out of Celts and anglo-saxons and leave you know Latin or Norse or French shaped dents in their language English has this kind of uncomfortable relationship with Latin English scholars I kinda had an inferiority complex and so during the 17th and 18th century you really see this move towards Latin izing English trying to make English grammar behave more like Latin grammar but English comes from a different language heritage into Germanic language and that doesn't mean it's better or worse than Latin it just means it's different and it behaves differently we shouldn't try to treat English as though it were anything other than English so if anyone ever tells you that you can't end a sentence with a preposition send them this page or if you prefer you know where to send them to which which is here on Khan Academy where you can learn anything Dave it out