Today’s New York Times includes an op-ed titled “An American Foreign Policy That Both Realists and Idealists Should Fall in Love With.” My third grade teacher would have made the writer sit in the corner and wear the dunce cap (yes, I had to do that on more than one occasion) for violating a commonly accepted English grammar rule. Only problem is, there isn’t actually a rule about ending sentences with prepositions. In fact, in many cases, it is preferable to do so in order to keep your writing from sounding too formal.
Winston Churchill is rumored to have responded to an editor who revised a sentence so as to avoid it ending in a preposition with the following: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.” Whether or not Churchill actually was the originator of this phrase has been contested – I don’t really care. The point is well taken. And I’d like an apology for all the time I spent revising essays and papers to sound stilted and awkward in the name of what’s proper.
That is not to say that ending sentences with a preposition is always correct. The preposition still needs an object. And many times it is better to avoid an ending preposition because of the mass perception that it is incorrect.
The preposition is grossly misunderstood. And that’s just something we’ll have to deal with.