'to' at the end of a sentence

Tarmia

New Member
Finnish
I have a question about the particle 'to'.

It is optional whether or not to use 'to' if it was at the end of a sentence?

1a. And he loved his daughters the only way he knew how.
1b. And he loved his daughters the only way he knew how to.

2a. He doesn't need you everywhere he goes.
2b. He doesn't need you everywhere he goes to.


I guess that both are just as correct, but the first one might just be a little more common in actual spoken language.

Just like 'that' is optional in certain cases.

3a. He knew that I didn't actually like him.

3b. He knew I didn't actually like him.


Thanks!
 
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  • freiin

    New Member
    English - Canada
    Hello Tarmia!

    You should stick with 1a. 1b and 2b are actually not just awkward, but incorrect. There's also an old rule that says one should never end a sentence with a preposition, and while it isn't observed all that strictly anymore, it's not obsolete yet!
     

    Tarmia

    New Member
    Finnish
    Hello Tarmia!

    You should stick with 1a. 1b and 2b are actually not just awkward, but incorrect. There's also an old rule that says one should never end a sentence with a preposition, and while it isn't observed all that strictly anymore, it's not obsolete yet!
    Thanks a lot!
     

    freiin

    New Member
    English - Canada
    I'm afraid the statement that it is "incorrect" to end a sentence with a preposition is an opinion I do not subscribe to.
    As I see. :) As I mentioned above, this is an old tradition that has now lost some relevance, so maybe it's not a hard-and-fast "rule", but it's still pretty handy in some cases, such as more formal registers & avoiding awkward expressions.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    To answer the original question, I find 1b and 2b unnecessary uses of to. They also sound less natural to me than 1a and 2a.

    This so-called rule (about prepositions generally at the end of a sentence) was called a "cherished superstition" by Fowler.
    If you start changing some sentences, you get an awkward expression. For example, Of whom are you afraid? is hardly an improvement on Who are you afraid of?
    Similarly, how would one change Where are you going to? Perhaps Whither are you going? :)
    Come to think of it, this is a case of an unnecessary to. We could simply say Where are you going? A better example would be Who are you going to give it to?
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    There's also an old rule that says one should never end a sentence with a preposition, and while it isn't observed all that strictly anymore, it's not obsolete yet!
    To isn't a preposition in 1b. It's a particle that introduces the infinitive form of the verb (to love). Is is a preposition in 2b.

    I would omit to with verbs of motion in relative clauses: ​I don't know where he went to (although you can't omit from: I don't know where he came from​).
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Hello Tarmia!

    You should stick with 1a. 1b and 2b are actually not just awkward, but incorrect. There's also an old rule that says one should never end a sentence with a preposition, and while it isn't observed all that strictly anymore, it's not obsolete yet!
    That rule is long gone, if it ever existed. As Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, "That is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put."
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, fre.
    I feel one should be extremely careful when recommending, discouraging or not encouraging a certain verbal behaviour - especially with foreign foreros trying to learn the langauge: there are innumerable cases when the preposition has no other place than at the end of the sentence. Example:
    A- I wish I had someone I could listen to
    B- Why. Of course you do: You have me to listen to

    GS :)
     

    freiin

    New Member
    English - Canada
    Hello all!

    Aren't we losing sight of Tarmia's original question here? :p But in answer to MuttQuad - I don't put up with that sort of nonsense either!:cool: As we all know, this rule has its limits, and Giorgio is definitely right in saying that sometimes there's no other logical place for a preposition than at the end of a sentence. Thus the caveat: the rule isn't always applicable!

    However, there are still (probably unfortunately - I'm speaking from experience) people who will get on your back for ending a sentence with a preposition, especially in formal settings. And Giorgio, since we never know where/when a foreign language learner will get to use the tips we native speakers provide, I think it's important to try to cover all bases. Forewarned, forearmed!

    In other words, this preposition thing is controversial. I personally would advise trying, whenever possible, to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition -- it's just safer that way. Nobody will say "That's not something with which I'm familiar" is wrong; but there are some nitpickers who won't like "That's something I'm not familiar with". :)

    P.S. By the way, we notice that Tarmia's example 2a is much preferable to 2b.
     
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    The Prof

    Senior Member
    I know this doesn't address the original question (to which perfectly good answers have already been given), but the more I look at the sentence, the more I wonder - do we even need 'how'? Couldn't we just say, "He loved his daughters the only way he knew"?
     

    freiin

    New Member
    English - Canada
    I know this doesn't address the original question (to which perfectly good answers have already been given), but the more I look at the sentence, the more I wonder - do we even need 'how'? Couldn't we just say, "He loved his daughters the only way he knew"?
    Yes, I really think we could.
     

    Alby84

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'm afraid the statement that it is "incorrect" to end a sentence with a preposition is an opinion I do not subscribe to.
    I completely agree. There are numerous articles on the internet debunking this myth. I do remember them trying to teach us this in school, however. It's one of those hypercorrections that somehow made it mainstream and stayed there for way too long. I read an interesting article that this myth may have carried over from Norman French rule in England, as French and other Romance languages do not generally ever end sentences in prepositions. For style purposes, some may indeed observe this rule in limited contexts, but English is just so chock-full of verbs requiring prepositions that always adhering to this rule would be cumbersome if not just plain odd sounding.
     

    freiin

    New Member
    English - Canada
    In other words, this preposition thing is controversial. I personally would advise trying, whenever possible, to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition -- it's just safer that way.
    EDIT: whenever it's not awkward.

    And that's got to be my final answer. ;)
     
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