"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 27 July 2009

Addisonian Termination

If there is one thing GB and I are quick to pick up on it is Addisonian Termination. What on earth is that, you may say. It is the ending of sentences with a preposition which, so we were taught, was a Bad Thing to do.

Winston Churchill mocked such pedantry as ours when he said "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. "

This grammatical construction was named Addisonian Termination by Bishop Hurd (1720-1808) because it was frequently used by Joseph Addison (1672-1719).

In fact, as long ago as 1926, Fowler's 'Modern English Usage' commented that " It was once a cherished superstition that prepositions must be kept true to their name and placed before the word they govern in spite of the incurable English instinct for putting them late. . . . The fact is that. . . . even now immense pains are sometimes expended in changing spontaneous into artificial English. . . . Those who lay down the universal principle that final prepositions are 'inelegant' are unconsciously trying to deprive the English language of a valuable idiomatic resource, which has been used freely by all our greatest writers except those whose instinct for English idiom has been overpowered by notions of correctness derived from Latin standards. The legitimacy of the prepositional ending in literary English must be uncompromisingly maintained. . . ."

Even nowadays such pedantic notions are amongst the youthful follies I still have difficulty giving up!!!!


  1. I still do not understand this rule you are speaking of...

    (Just kidding)

    We all have our grammatical idiosyncrasies. Fight on for a grammatically correct English language!

  2. So wouldn't be pleased if I ended my sentence with the?

  3. Well I still haven't given up the effort. But I suppose it's just something up with which I'll have to put.