The Preposition 'At': How its Usage Has Changed

The American language seems to change as much as our attention span. Somewhere in the midst of this change, more and more of us are ending our sentences with the word “at.” What was once considered a major faux pas in public speaking has been creeping into the mainstream.

Examples:

  • Where is the meeting at?
  • Where are we at?
  • Where’s the tuna fish at? 

While it has always been a general rule that sentences cannot end in a preposition, there are exceptions.

Examples:

            What did you step on?

                        vs.

            On what did you step?

Of course the first example is perfectly acceptable. The difference with the preposition “at” is that to remove it does not change the meaning of the sentence. 

Examples without “at”:

  • Where is the meeting? 
  • Where are we? 
  • Where’s the tuna fish?

 It may be wise to amend your speech pattern depending on the audience you are trying to reach.  For example, professional presentations or job interviews may be places to avoid “sloppy speak” so as not to give the wrong impression.

 Also, be careful not to write the way you speak. What you may get away with at the lunch table will never work on a school assignment. If you have questions, refer to Grammarly.com – you’ll see exactly where you’re at.

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Annmarie Cassidy is a Program Manager at Rasmussen College. She is an English major from Fordham University. Annmarie has a passion for helping students reach their academic goals. Connect with her at annmarie.cassidy@rasmussen.edu.

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