Miss Elizabeth Miller spend an entire semester teaching several generations of West Point high school English students the proper use of the English language.
Her pet peeve was the improper use of prepositions.
She harped on the proper use of prepositions so often and so thoroughly that I dreamed about them in my sleep. I believe the silly rule about not ending sentences with prepositions should rest in peace. In fact, I think it already has!
Alas, many rules Miss Elizabeth taught us have been tossed into the winds of the 21st century. I bet she’s up there gritting her teeth as she witnesses the demise of the King’s English.
Whether man-made or God-given, language is a true marvel that prepositions help to turn groups of words into. And so, a preposition is a word that you must give much attention to. It is a word that you will have much use for. In fact, it is a word that you cannot escape from.
A preposition is a vital element of grammar that you will learn to swear by. Or, it may cause a grammatical problem that you will swear at. Its correct use can be a puzzle that you may become entangled in.
Or, it can raise questions that you will argue over. But that correct usage should never make prepositions a burden that you will stumble under.
The right preposition for each desired meaning is one that you can depend on. Therefore, it is the one that you must search after. And once you find it, you will know which word you must place it beside.
And of course, the preposition is always related to the word that it is placed before. The name itself requires it to be in that “pre-position,” and so it loses its identity when placed next to a word that it is behind.
Since some prepositions are also adverbs and even conjunctions, those are distinctions that you should always wonder about. Moreover, prepositions can make new words when they are prefixes that verb roots and other words are joined onto. This ongoing process inspires the increase of vocabulary by exploring outlying linguistic byways that we might otherwise undervalue, overlook, forget or even sneer at.
Some strict grammatical purists claim that a preposition is a word that you should not end a sentence with. But such rigid, arcane rules are linguistic limitations up with which you need not put. Even so, you should practice moderation and not go to extremes, like the little boy who asked his mother, “What did you bring that book that I don’t like to be read to out of up for?”