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Can you use a preposition to start a sentence?


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#1 glad2bamom

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:05 PM

I need advice....I was just told NEVER to begin a sentence with a preposition. However, I've always been taught this is perfectly acceptable.

Help!

example: During the holidays, people are usually in good spirits.

#2 Mama Geek

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:08 PM

I've always been taught that it is fine.

#3 DarlaS

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:10 PM

I've never heard such a thing. I think someone is confused. It's actually considered a good way to start a sentence to put a little more variety into your writing.

Maybe they meant conjunction? Starting a sentence with "and" or "but" is something many good writers try to avoid (or used to anyway...).

#4 LauraGB

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:10 PM

It is acceptable to start a sentence with a prepositional phrase. It wasn't always cool to end with a preposition, though.

#5 Abigail4476

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:12 PM

I need advice....I was just told NEVER to begin a sentence with a preposition. However, I've always been taught this is perfectly acceptable.

Help!

example: During the holidays, people are usually in good spirits.


It's definitely acceptable to use a preposition at the beginning of a sentence. It's ending a sentence with a preposition that's questionable.

#6 ChristusG

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:19 PM

I've always heard that ending a sentence with a preposition can be iffy in some circumstances....but not beginning it with one.

#7 hsmomto5

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:35 PM

IEW actually teaches this as an opener.
Lora inNC

#8 Laurie4b

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:47 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.

Edited by Laurie4b, 25 October 2010 - 09:49 PM.


#9 Binalina

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:09 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.


:lol::lol::lol: Love it!

#10 smrtmama

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:12 PM

Up the airy mountain, down the rushing glen, we daren't go a-hunting for fear of little men.

I say yes.

#11 Abigail4476

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:13 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.


ROFL!!!!! :lol:

In response to reading this, I feel compelled to congratulate you on an awesome post!

#12 Forget-me-not

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:14 PM

I've always heard that it's improper to end sentences with prepositions.

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.


:D:D:D

#13 justamouse

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:15 PM

sometimes newbie writers are told to not start sentences with prep phrases because they will modify them incorrectly.

#14 YourFidgetyFriend

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:17 PM

They were probably just confused and meant you shouldn't use a preposition at the end of a sentence. So basically, they tried to flex their grammar knowledge and failed.

These days there are quite a few people who find the rule about not ending with a preposition antiquated. So even if this person quoted the correct rule, it would be one that can be debated.

#15 KidsHappen

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:30 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.


Excellent examples. :thumbup1:

#16 KidsHappen

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:33 PM

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to begin a sentence with a preposition. However, the question of whether you may end a sentence with one is still open. :D

#17 LauraGB

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:39 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.



:thumbup1: Quite seriously the most definitive grammar answer I've seen here.

And for the record - I'm firmly planted in the camp of no respectable sentence ending in a preposition (even though I may write them here on occasion.).

#18 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:45 PM

:thumbup1: Quite seriously the most definitive grammar answer I've seen here.

And for the record - I'm firmly planted in the camp of no respectable sentence ending in a preposition (even though I may write them here on occasion.).


People are given the rule of thumb of not ending with a preposition because they are often extraneous. As long as the preposition is not extraneous, it's fine. Otherwise, you are going to be using the famous phrase "That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!" This is one of those over-correction things.

#19 Gooblink

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:48 PM

For what reason is it not acceptable? In what way is it not acceptable? Before you read the rule, you thought it was acceptable. Under what system is it unacceptable? Across the Atlantic, English-speakers sometimes have different rules: I do not believe that this is one of them. From the time I was a child, I have heard educated people start sentences with prepositions. Except for your post, I have never heard anyone question that a sentence could be started with a preposition. :tongue_smilie: So, yes, I can start a sentence with a preposition.


Well played!

As for ending a sentence with a preposition...

Was it Churchill who said, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." (or something like that)

:)

If I'm not mistaken, outside of formal writing, perhaps, most editors don't bat an eye at a sentence ending in a preposition.

As pp have pointed out, no problems with beginning a sentence with one.

#20 LauraGB

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:04 PM

People are given the rule of thumb of not ending with a preposition because they are often extraneous. As long as the preposition is not extraneous, it's fine. Otherwise, you are going to be using the famous phrase "That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!" This is one of those over-correction things.


Yeah, I know. But I still can't stand it. Even from my favorite authors. "I can not put up with it", I tell you. :tongue_smilie: Seriously drives me crazy. I also can't handle that useless Oxford comma, either. And I know all too well the argument about that guy, so I'm not going there in this poor poster's first thread, lol.

#21 Rivka

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:11 PM

Yeah, I know. But I still can't stand it. Even from my favorite authors. "I can not put up with it", I tell you. :tongue_smilie: Seriously drives me crazy. I also can't handle that useless Oxford comma, either. And I know all too well the argument about that guy, so I'm not going there in this poor poster's first thread, lol.


Useless? Useless?! Take a look at this photo caption and tell me the Oxford comma is useless:
http://nielsenhayden...652.html#012652

(For those who don't care to click through, it's a picture of Merle Haggard captioned: "The documentary was filmed over two years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.")

#22 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:15 PM

Useless? Useless?! Take a look at this photo caption and tell me the Oxford comma is useless:
http://nielsenhayden...652.html#012652

(For those who don't care to click through, it's a picture of Merle Haggard captioned: "The documentary was filmed over two years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.")


:lol: I don't often use a serial comma, but they do come in handy at times.

#23 Gooblink

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:15 PM

People are given the rule of thumb of not ending with a preposition because they are often extraneous. As long as the preposition is not extraneous, it's fine. Otherwise, you are going to be using the famous phrase "That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!" This is one of those over-correction things.


I'm sorry, I didn't see your post...or we were composing at the same time...I repeated the quote. :tongue_smilie:

#24 Abigail4476

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:15 PM

Useless? Useless?! Take a look at this photo caption and tell me the Oxford comma is useless:
http://nielsenhayden...652.html#012652

(For those who don't care to click through, it's a picture of Merle Haggard captioned: "The documentary was filmed over two years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.")

:lol::lol::lol:

#25 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:17 PM

I'm sorry, I didn't see your post...or we were composing at the same time...I repeated the quote. :tongue_smilie:


I think we were writing at the same time, I thought it was funny it brought the same quote to mind for each of us! No worries, I'm not one to get all up in arms over something like that. :)

#26 LauraGB

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:21 PM

Useless? Useless?! Take a look at this photo caption and tell me the Oxford comma is useless:
http://nielsenhayden...652.html#012652

(For those who don't care to click through, it's a picture of Merle Haggard captioned: "The documentary was filmed over two years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.")


:lol::lol::lol: Okay, maybe not completely useless. Just over used often enough to annoy me.

#27 Matryoshka

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:31 PM

I've always heard that it's improper to end sentences with prepositions.


Actually, it's completely impossible to end a sentence with a preposition, since the definition of a preposition is a word that shows a relationship between two other things in a sentence - it can't be a preposition without a phrase containing an object.

If there is no prepositional phrase, if there is no object, there is no preposition. That thing that looks like a preposition at the end of the sentence is... an adverb. Or perhaps more accurately, part of the verb itself. "To put up with" is not the same verb as "to put", nor is "to look at" or "to look for" the same as "to look"; "to get up" is not the same verb as "to get". In Spanish, they are actually entirely different verbs - which is how this got started. In Latin languages, they have separate verbs for each of these instances. and some Latin-loving grammarian decided at some point that since Latin verbs can't be split, neither should English ones (this also applies to the 'split infinitive', wherin we are supposed 'to go boldly' rather than 'to boldly go'). In English we add more words to base verbs for these nuances of meaning. Often the only way to get rid of those "prepositions at the end of the sentence" and not get a convoluted Winston Churchill sentence is to replace a perfectly good verb of Germanic origin with one of Latin origin. German verbs also have these bits, but in the infinitive they are smashed up against the main part of the verb. When used in sentences they move all about, often separated from the main verb by entire phrases, and often end up... at the end of the sentence!

#28 Terrabelle

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 12:31 AM

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth..." Genesis 1:1

Well, if it is good enough to begin the Bible's first sentence, it is good enough to start mine! ;)

#29 Laura Corin

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:24 AM

(For those who don't care to click through, it's a picture of Merle Haggard captioned: "The documentary was filmed over two years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.")


If one wanted to suggest that he had been married to Kris and Robert, one would use a colon:

"Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives: Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall."

Laura

#30 angela in ohio

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:21 AM

I also can't handle that useless Oxford comma, either.


Oh, no, she didn't.... :glare:


:D

Edited by angela in ohio, 26 October 2010 - 07:28 AM.


#31 angela in ohio

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:27 AM

Never heard that rule, and I think I've read every English grammar handbook in the library. :D Opening a sentence with a preposition or adverb is a good way to break up the monotony of S-V-DO sentences. I'm using The Art of Styling Sentences with my writing students right now, and a sentence beginning with a prepositional phrase is one of the patterns the author recommends.

As pp have said, maybe you are thinking of the rule about ending a sentence with a preposition, or starting a sentence with a conjunction.

#32 Laurie4b

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 11:40 AM

Well played!

As for ending a sentence with a preposition...

Was it Churchill who said, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." (or something like that)

:)

If I'm not mistaken, outside of formal writing, perhaps, most editors don't bat an eye at a sentence ending in a preposition.

As pp have pointed out, no problems with beginning a sentence with one.


I love that Churchill quote!

#33 Mejane

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 12:07 PM

Re. ending with a preposition:

In Designing Women Charlene tells this anecdote:
"I asked this Northern woman, 'Where are ya'll from?' And she said, 'I'm from a place where we don't end our sentences with prepositions.' So I said, 'Okay, where are ya'll from, b*tch?'"

:D

#34 SnowWhite

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:24 PM

"Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands."

Yes, I like sentences begun with prepositions. I think they are a questionable part of speech to end a sentence with. :lol:

#35 KidsHappen

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:01 PM

Re. ending with a preposition:

In Designing Women Charlene tells this anecdote:
"I asked this Northern woman, 'Where are ya'll from?' And she said, 'I'm from a place where we don't end our sentences with prepositions.' So I said, 'Okay, where are ya'll from, b*tch?'"

:D


:lol:

#36 Photo Ninja

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:54 PM

A teacher friend teaches that rule, and I questioned it. She said it was not really a rule, but teachers often make it one because students who start sentences with a preposition often write a sentence fragment instead of a complete sentence. It is their way of helping students write complete sentences.

#37 Mandy in TN

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:59 PM

IEW actually teaches this as an opener.

:iagree:

#38 mcconnellboys

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 04:14 PM

It's fine! You can't very well vary sentence structure unless you *are* able to do this!


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