Blog-azine

Ending a sentence with “at”

We’ve all been admonished, “Never end a sentence with at.” True, there are times when you definitely should not; but there are also times when you should. It’s common to hear “Where is he at?” That’s simply wrong, but not for the reason most think. You may think it’s because “at” is a preposition and “you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition*.” But that’s not the reason. It’s merely because “at” in the sentence above is a redundancy. “Where is he?” says exactly the same thing, so adding “at” is simply superfluous. And your goal should be to have no unnecessary words. However, there are times when “at” is desirable at the end of a sentence. If you see someone looking at you, snickering, what are you going to say: “What are you laughing at?” Or, would you say “At what are you laughing?” I’d choose “What are you laughing at?” any day.

*If you still believe “you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition,” see the entry dated 3-8-2008 below.

Want to learn more? Consider my two writing seminars: Business Writing in Plain English and Goof-Proof Grammar.

Read all entries in The Written Word
Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008