3

He's this person who I owe 40$ (to).

He's this person I owe 40$ to.

He's this person who I owe 40$.

Are all these sentences grammatically correct? Are the first and second one grammatically correct? Should there be a to at the end of first sentence, or should it be more like the last one?

  • 1
    I am well into my sixties and was taught that we should not finish a sentence with a preposition. In practical everyday speech, native English speakers do it all the time. So is this question about writing or speaking? An editor might well correct a sentence ending with to, but a listener would probably not notice you speaking it and ending with to. – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 17:40
  • @Willow Rex : "whom am I suppose to give this letter to" - Is it incorrect? – EngFan Jan 10 '17 at 17:44
  • Probably better to say: "To whom do I send the letter?" In writing, that is. In common speech, people might easily and normally say: "Who do I send that letter to?" – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 17:48
  • 5
    A minor correction: in writing English, we normally put the dollar sign ($) in front of the number, like $40. – stangdon Jan 10 '17 at 18:13
  • @stangdon I did not know that. I am sure you are correct. I've just had no occasion to use it. – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 18:17
4

I am well into my sixties and was taught that we should not finish a sentence with a preposition. In practical everyday speech, native English speakers do it all the time. So is this question about writing or speaking? An editor might well correct a sentence ending with to, but a listener would probably not notice you speaking it and ending with to. (I decided to make an answer from my comment.)

He's this person who I owe $40 (to).

speech: -- He's the person I owe $40 to. -- in writing: He is the person to whom I owe forty dollars.

He's this person I owe $40 to.

In speech: -- He's the person I owe $40 to.

He's this person who I owe $40.

speech: He's the person who I owe $40 to. -- Writing: He's the person to whom I owe forty dollars.

  • 1
    I'd give this answer a +1 and say that ending the sentence with a preposition in a written work will impart a colloquial tone, especially if it is not the exception but the rule. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 10 '17 at 18:48
  • @TRomano or of course if you are using quotes. Things change, which is why I admitted my age. ;) – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 18:55
  • 1
    I agree with all you wrote (and was taught the same). It survives as a stylistic convention not to overuse prepositions at the end of a sentence if you wish to strike a tone that is not too colloquial. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 10 '17 at 19:11
  • @ TRomano What I do not know, could fill a textbook. Thanks for your help. – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 19:19
4

In all three examples, "this" should be replaced by "the". Also, the "$" sign is usually written before the number, even though it is said after the number.

With these corrections, option 2 becomes correct in both formal and informal English.

With these corrections, both option 1 and option 3 become correct in informal English. The contractions are consistent with informal English. In very formal English, the "who" should be replaced by "whom".

1b. He's the person who I owe $40 to.

1c. He's the person whom I owe $40 to.

2b. He's the person I owe $40 to.

3b. He's the person who I owe $40.

3c. He's the person whom I owe $40.

Another possibility is to put the "to" before "whom", instead of at the end of the sentence. With this word order, "to whom" is relatively common:

4c. He's the person to whom I owe $40.

To my (American) ear, the most natural options would be:

  1. I owe $40 to him.

  2. I owe him $40.

  • I like your #5 and #6 especially. – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 18:47
  • 1
    "He's this person" is completely fine in certain colloquial contexts. "I hope I don't run into Kentopher today." "Who's Kentopher?" "He's this person I owe $40". – verbose Jan 10 '17 at 21:29
  • @verbose -- I would not use that but am in my 60s. I think language usage changes by generation and that it matters to older people to speak well -- or at least in the style we were taught. We were taught it was a sign of intelligence. If I am hiring a college grad, I would not take "He's this person" as coming from a person with education -- fair or not. Colloquially, I am down with your answer. :wink: – WRX Jan 10 '17 at 23:11

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