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English Grammar

Prepositions at the end of clauses

A preposition often connects two things a noun, adjective or verb that comes before it and a noun phrase or pronoun (prepositional object) that comes after it.

  • He was really angry with me.
  • She was looking at him.
  • They live in a small village.

In some structures we may put the prepositional object at or near the beginning of a clause. This happens especially in four cases:

wh-questions: What are you looking at?
relative clauses: This is the book that I told you about.
passives: I hate being shouted at.
infinitive structures: It is a boring place to live in.

Wh-questions

When a question word is the object of a preposition, the preposition most often comes at the end of the clause.

  • Who is this present for? (For whom is this present? is extremely formal.)
  • What are you looking at? (Less formal than At what are you looking?)
  • Who did you go with? (Less formal than With whom did you go?)
  • Where did you buy it from?
Relative clauses

When a relative pronoun is the object of a preposition, the preposition often goes at the end of a clause.

  • This is the store that I told you about. (Less formal than about which I told you.)
  • She is the only woman (who) I have ever really been in love with. (Less formal than with whom I have ever really been in love.)
Passives

In passive structures, prepositions go with their verbs.

  • She was operated on last night.
  • I hate being shouted at.
Infinitive structures

Infinitive complements can have prepositions with them.

  • She needs other children to play with.
  • We need a place to live in.

Sections In This Article
Prepositions
Expressions without prepositions
Prepositions at the end of clauses
Prepositions: some useful points
Common prepositions - usage
Common errors with prepositions

 

 

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