Redundant Prepositions: Something About Which I Am Concerned About

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First, there’s nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition. It’s a myth — probably the most tenacious of all grammar myths.

Some people, however, still prefer to avoid the terminal preposition. Instead of saying “This is the topic I want to talk about,” they say, “This is the topic about which I want to talk.”

Fine. I think the first version is clearer and less pretentious, but that’s just a matter of opinion. The latter sentence is less likely to offend cranky English teachers.

What amuses me is when public speakers forget that they already inserted the preposition into the sentence (I mean speakers in general of course  — not my pastors or anything). They end up saying something like “This is the topic about which I want to talk about.”

This, by the way, is rarely a problem in written English. Most everyone catches and edits the redundancy in print, but speakers mess this up regularly. We should all be inclined to overlook spoken errors (especially during, say, preaching), since they have little time to catch their own mistakes. But if you know any public speakers, share this article with them. Just being aware of the problem may help them avoid statements like:

  • This is the person to whom this passage is referring to.
  • That was the area from which all the original settlers came from.
  • Eventually, he became the one around whom all the poor and oppressed people rallied around.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian Wasko

Brian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.

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  1. Steve
    Steve03-28-2014

    The one that always makes me cringe is in Paul McCartney’s song, Live and Let Die – “In this ever-changing world, in which we live in…”

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