I’m Heading Midwest; Wanna Come With?

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 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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