Answers to Questions About Prepositions
Here are several questions from DailyWritingTips.com readers about use of prepositions, and my responses.
1. I was always taught, “Never use a preposition to end a sentence.” For example, “I want to go with” should be “I also want to go,” or “Use the dustbin to throw the rubbish in” should be “Throw the rubbish in the dustbin.” Yet you have done so with the word out in the sentence “California gave a record $100 million loan to bail schools out.” Is it OK to end sentences with prepositions?
The admonition to never end a sentence with a proposition has no valid grammatical basis: For example, “She was the one he wanted to go out with” is correct. (Here is one of several DailyWritingTips.com posts on the topic.) Earlier placement of a preposition in a sentence makes the sentence sound more formal, but efforts to consistently do so sometimes result in awkwardly stiff syntax, as in “She was the one out with which he wanted to go.” (However, “I want to go with” is a different matter; as a truncated version of “I want to go with you,” it’s colloquial and not suited for formal writing.)
2. I am reading a very well-written book, but I’ve run across an expression that grates: The author wrote at least twice of “a couple weeks” or “a couple trees” (or whatever), where I have always said “a couple of.” I can’t figure out which expression is the correct one. Have you covered this, or can you advise me?
This post is one of several at DailyWritingTips.com that discusses couple. “A couple of” is the correct form, but either the author chose to be colloquial, or neither he nor his editors know the correct usage.
3. I have always thought that “outside of” is incorrect when used this way: “The man was outside of the house” (as opposed to “The man was outside the house”). Am I right?
Using the preposition of is usually superfluous in such constructions, but it’s not incorrect, and in the senses of “besides” and “apart from,” it’s necessary. Some grammar handbooks advise playing this usage by ear.
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