Monday, February 17, 2014

WARNING: Grammar Rant

Nobody likes a Grammar Nazi. I know this. And I try really, really hard. I do. I've gotten really good at not correcting people's grammar over the years. And this is a good thing.

Because people make mistakes, you know? Slip of the tongue, brain fart, typo- honest mistakes that everyone makes. Even me. So I cut people a break. Because people are human, and nobody likes a Grammar Nazi.

I feel pretentious even talking about grammar. Like I said, I make mistakes, too. Nobody's perfect. But I feel like I just care about grammar a lot more than some people do... maybe that just comes from being an English major? Maybe that's why I'm an English major? I don't know. I couldn't recognize a foul in football, but comma splices rarely elude me. That's just how my brain works.

Long story short: Bad grammar bothers me, I'm sincerely sorry if that annoys you, and now I'm going to talk about grammar that annoys me a whole lot.

So there's this rule in the English language that you're not supposed to end sentences with a preposition.

Prepositions are words like up, over, on, in, out, with, at, from...

You know what, forget it. Schoolhouse Rock does it best.

Yay! Prepositions.

So like I said: the official rule of prepositions is that they must never be the last word of a sentence.

So instead of saying, "Which bench did you sit on?" you're supposed to say, "On which bench did you sit?"

Except people don't really talk like that. Sentences like "On which bench did you sit?" sound overly formal and rather like they're spoken by people who lived hundreds of years ago. So I forgive the breaking of this rule very often and I, myself, break it all the time. The only time I'll pitch a fit about it is in the case of academic writing.

There are just a few exceptions.

For reasons I can't really explain, it drives me up the wall when people end their sentences with the word "at."

"Where did you park at?" "Where is the building located at?" "Where you at?" "Where are the puppies at?" "Do you know where the bathroom's at?"



It's hard to say why this preposition bothers me and the others don't (although sometimes I have a real issue with people ending their sentences with "to," as well). I think what gets me is that the word "at" is completely unnecessary in a sentence that already has the word "where" in it.

It's not like "Which bench did you sit on?" in which the preposition is just in the wrong place.

The word "at" does not belong in the sentence "Where did you park?"

At all.

Again: There is no place for the word "at" in that sentence, or in virtually any other sentence that starts with the word "where."

Where did you park? Where is the building located? Where are you? Where are the puppies? Do you know where the bathroom is?

No "at." Ever.

If you think about it, any function the word "at" has is already taken care of by the word "where." So the word "at" is completely useless and unnecessary. Don't let it stay in the sentence just to make it feel better. Get out of here, at.

So when people end their sentences with the word "at," they're saying more words than they have to. They're spending more energy than is necessary, and all that their extra effort gets them is a grammatically incorrect sentence. That's why it bugs me so much.

I know you're all thinking of that old joke right now: "Where did you park at, @%#&$?"

Very funny. Very classy. But still grammatically incorrect.


  1. Preach it, sister! I wish, for the life of me, I could remember what it was one of my teachers said specifically about "where (are) you at?" being wrong, wrong, WRONG! It drives me nuts, too.

    However, it being wrong to end a sentence with a preposition is a grammar myth:

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I poked around in a few grammar guides and wrote a new blog post discussing the not-really-a-rule-anymore. You learn something new every day.