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Grammar Tips & Tidbits

 

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Eliminating Unnecessary Prepositionsss

Last week we celebrated the fact that it's perfectly acceptable to conclude a sentence with a preposition! If you missed last week's tip, you can view it here.

This week we'll discuss how to eliminate unnecessary prepositions. The following tip comes from Jane Straus's website,
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. You can view additional tips, read her blog, or purchase her book at this website. Jane's website also includes lots of free quizzes so you can test your knowledge!
 

           

You may end a sentence with a preposition. Just do not use extra prepositions when the meaning is clear without them.

            
       
       

Correct

That is something I cannot agree with.  OR

 
 

 

That is something with which I cannot agree.

 
 

Correct

Where did he go?

 
 

Incorrect

Where did he go to?

 
 

Correct

Where did you get this?

 
 

Incorrect

Where did you get this at?

 
 

Correct

I will go later.

 
 

Incorrect

I will go later on.

 
 

Correct

Take your shoes off the bed.

 
 

Incorrect

Take your shoes off of the bed.

 
 

Correct

You may look out the window.

 
 

Incorrect

You may look out of the window.

 
 

Correct

Cut it into small pieces.

 
 

Incorrect

Cut it up into small pieces.¹

 


The following example of "prepositions gone wild" best illustrates this topic. It's rumored that a young child once issued this complaint because he didn't want to listen to a particular bedtime story about Australia:

        "What did you bring that book that I don't want to be read
         to from out of about Down Under up for?"


Surely that sentence sets the world record for the longest chain of unnecessary prepositions!

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Sources:
1.  Straus, Jane. "Problems with Prepositions."
          The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
          http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/probPrep.asp
          (accessed on January 28, 2007). Published with permission.
2.  Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. 10th ed.
          (New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005), 302.