The writing rules you’re allowed to break

Incomplete sentences and ending sentences with prepositions are among the rules you can bend from time to time.

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Chances are good you’re repeating some grammar and writing rules as gospel. But they may be wrong. Or they’ve changed. Or they were never really rules to begin with.

Whatever the reason, you can stop:

1. You can end your sentences with a preposition.

The rule was created by scholar Robert Lowth who wanted English to bend to the same rules as Latin. In the Latin sentence structure, it’s not possible to have a sentence end with a preposition. Ergo, said Lowth, English shouldn’t either.

But it’s wrong. There are times you have to end your sentences in a preposition. For example, let’s say you stepped in something that stinks, and your friend says to you, “In what did you step?”

Wouldn’t you look at her like she lost her mind?

In that instance, it’s perfectly OK to say “what did you step in?” It’s proper English, grammatically correct, and doesn’t sound completely idiotic.

On the other hand, “Where’s it at?” is wrong.

The basic rule is that if you can remove a preposition and the sentence still works, you shouldn’t use the preposition. But if you remove it, and the sentence changes, you should leave the preposition at the end.

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