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Ending a sentence with a preposition is usually fine in casual conversation (though you’ll never hear me say “Where are you at?” when “Where are you?” will suffice), but my students haven’t yet learned that ending with a preposition in formal writing is generally a weak choice.

If you have students who need to add weight or maturity to their writing voices, a quick fix is to teach them that part of the problem lies in their habit of ending sentences with prepositions. Though not the gravest of writing sins, tacking a preposition onto the end of a sentence can make the writer’s voice in a formal document too casual. Ending with any of the “to be” verbs (is, was, were…) also ought to be avoided, but that’s a lesson for a different day.

To help bring home this point, I threw down a challenge last week to my Quarter Trio groups, assigning them to film a version of the Preposition Song and send me the recording. I gave them an instruction sheet (link below) and no class time to work on their performance. Three days later, I had a delightfully chuckle-filled evening viewing their videos. Two of my favorites are included here:

Click here for a copy of the assignment handout.
Click here to learn more about Quarter Trio groups.

I know not all of my English teacher tribe will agree, but I’m certain students’ formal writing voices are greatly improved when they break the habit of ending their sentences with prepositions. Know what I’m talking about?

Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comment section below. How about you end each sentence in your message with one of the prepositions above? See what you can come up with!

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