I’m Heading Midwest; Wanna Come With?

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A Facebook friend made the following comment in response to a post about ending sentences with prepositions.
Having recently moved to the Midwest, one of my biggest difficulties with local expressions has been the common practice of ending a sentence with the word with — as in “Do you want to go with?” or “I brought it with.” The “Grammar Police” in me was incredulous that educated people would use a preposition without an object.

I live on the East Coast, but I have enough friends from the Midwest to be familiar with this little regionalism. It’s a bit different from the classic “terminal preposition” because the object of the preposition is left out altogether — what we call an ellipsis. It’s left out because it is implied by the context. In these examples the us and me is assumed. I find this manner of speaking quirky, but quaint and clear.

This kind of ellipsis is common with other prepositions. Have you ever knocked on a door and been told to “go around”? Most likely the speaker means “go around the building,” but the latter two words can be reasonably inferred. A secretary might invite you to “go in” for an appointment, and a salesperson may suggest you “take a look around.” Most of us say things like “I got in,” or “I fell off.” None of these examples are grammatically incorrect, so I don’t see any objection to leaving the object of with implied either. In fact, I’m surprised that it sounds so odd to us non-Midwesterners.

What a handful of influential grammarians have objected to for centuries is not this use of ellipsis, but the placing of a preposition at the end of a sentence when its object appears somewhere in the middle:

This is the restaurant I read about.

Here, the object of the preposition about is restaurant (The phrase would be about the restaurant.), but because it is also the predicate nominative of the sentence — and a word can’t be both a predicate nominative and an object of a preposition at the same time — the only way to avoid ending with the preposition is to use the pronoun which to replace it:

This is the restaurant about which I read.

Of course, as I’ve said, this kind of convolution is unnecessary. Ending with about is both clear and acceptable.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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