Thursday, August 24, 2017


Dawg Sez 14

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Ever wonder why dogs circle each other sniffing their hind ends? Obviously, they are looking for errant prepositions. Everyone knows that you cannot end a sentence with a preposition. The rule is etched in stone.

Well, that's what yer 3rd grade language arts teacher would have you believe. I'm here today to tell ya that this rule is not something to bet the farm on. Take Shakespeare's famous line "We are such stuff as dreams are made on". Or, if something more practical is wanted: He is a man you can count on. Those are prepositions at the end of these sentences.

Why do these phrases work and impugn the rule? The general slant is that if the verb is relatively weak and the preposition strong, the preposition belongs at the end. If the opposite is true, the verb goes last.

If Shakespeare's line is held to the rule, it stumbles badly. We are such stuff on which dreams are made. A bit pompous, that. Or: He is a man on whom you can count. Pompous and pedantic.

Many expressions have become idioms simply from long usage. The preposition is at the end, but the preceding word is where the stress lands. Examples are: "Nothing to sneeze at"; "Something to guard against"; " You don't know what I've been through".

Rules aplenty have been penned in an attempt to make the grammar and syntax of language clear. Language, however, is not mathematics. 2 + 2 is always 4; but two and too are homophones.

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