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preposition stranding

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preposition stranding

Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs

(Lions Gate)
Definition:

A syntactic construction in which a preposition is left without a following object. A stranded preposition most often appears at the end of a sentence.

See also:


Examples and Observations:

  • "I don't think we got set up; I know we got set up! I mean, really, seriously, where did all those cops come from, huh?"
    (Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, 1992)


  • "I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about."
    (Oscar Wilde)


  • "When the preposition stays close to the verb, . . . we say that it is stranded, that is, displaced from its position in a PP [prepositional phrase]. The verb and the preposition stay together, with the stress usually on the verb. . . .

    "The preposition is often stranded to the end of a clause and is separated from the nominal. Stranding is typical of spoken English, while the non-stranded counterparts are very formal:
    What's this about? ('What' functions as a complement of about: about what?)
    Which book are you referring to? (To which book are you referring?)"
    (Angela Downing and Philip Locke, English Grammar: A University Course. Routledge, 2006)


  • "Prescriptive manuals generally discuss preposition stranding in terms of sentences that end with a preposition, and some of the more old-fashioned ones still state that ending a sentence with a preposition is incorrect or at least inelegant. This is a case of a particularly silly prescriptive rule that is clearly and massively in conflict with actual usage. All fluent speakers of English use stranded prepositions, and most usage books now recognise that. . . . The truth is that the construction . . . has been grammatical and commonplace in English for hundreds of years."
    (Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005)
Also Known As: preposition deferring, orphaned prepositions
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