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Merriam-Webster’s New Grammar Rule Is Dividing The Internet

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

There are a few things that rile up the self-annointed Grammar Police on the Internet. The insertion of the word ‘like’ in sentences, the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, and whether or not it’s right to end sentences with prepositions.

As it turns out, the last one is now acceptable according to renowned dictionary editor Merriam-Webster.

In a now-contentious Instagram post, they stated, “It is permissible in English for a preposition to be what you end a sentence with.”

To refresh your memory of primary school English lessons, prepositions are words used to show the relationship between a noun and a pronoun and other elements in a sentence. For example, ‘to’, ‘with’, ‘about’, ‘upon’, ‘for’, or ‘of’.

The response was near instantaneous. Many welcomed this destruction of the shackles of arbitrary English grammar rules that have plagued English-language speakers and writers for ages, while others went up against it. The opposing camp insisted that ending a sentence with a preposition is “lazy” and “weird”.

According to NPR, grammarians and lexicographers have welcomed the announcement. The origin of the taboo can be traced back to the 1500s and the 1600s, when Latin was considered the highest standard of language.

Merriam-Webster editors have always been flagbearers of normalising the use of prepositions at the end of sentences where it made sense to use them. Back in 2022, editor Ammon Shea took to X (formerly Twitter) to share his thoughts on the “weirdest quirk of English”.

In a recent interview, another editor Peter Aolowski says, “It’s organic and it’s natural. There are phrases such as, ‘This is the first radio show I ever heard of,’ or, ‘A friend I went to college with,’ or ‘What is it made out of?’ ....Those are perfectly organic and natural ways to pose those questions.”

Other languages, like Scandinavian, Swedish and Danish, also allow sentences to end with prepositions.

So will you shed the rules drilled into you by your 3rd grade English teacher now that Merriam-Webster has declared it moot?