This is the house where I grew up.

If we accept the (debatable) rule that a sentence should not end in a preposition, are phrasal verbs an exception? After all there is no other place in the above sentence where "up" might fit, for example:

This is the house where up I grew

Or, must we eschew the phrasal verb in favor of a synonym,

This is the house where I was raised

This is my childhood home

This is the house where I spent my childhood


(Note: I am aware of this similar question, but since it is not actually about a phrasal verb, it does not answer my question. I'm also aware of the famously misattributed Churchill quote, but feel free to repeat it.)

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    I believe that educated people who think the "rule" you mention has any validity (I have the impression that there are very few of these) consider "up" in sentences like this to be an adverb, not a preposition: hence, the proscription against ending a sentence in a preposition would be irrelevant. (It's easy to find dictionary entries that call "up" an adverb.) The idea that prepositions can be "intransitive", so to speak, and not have any noun phrase as a complement is somewhat controversial. – sumelic Jul 22 '17 at 6:52
  • Here are some related posts about the categorization of words as prepositions vs. adverbs: What part of speech would “away” be?, Is “now” a “preposition”?, Is there any real difference between “to” as a preposition and “to” as an adverb? – sumelic Jul 22 '17 at 6:57
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    There's no rule to be an exception to! Whether part of a verbal idiom or some other construction, preposition stranding is perfectly acceptable. – BillJ Jul 22 '17 at 9:06
  • In any case, do not eschew the phrasal verb, and put its second part wherever it sounds best. – Xanne Jul 22 '17 at 17:41
  • Some transitive MWVs are inseparable (I came across this great book on origami.) Some are optionally separable (I turned on the light / I turned the light on). And some are obligatorily separable (Their exquisite finish sets these model cars apart.) But even the inseparable cases/usages can be used with particles at the end of a sentence (Look at this great book I came across.) As can particles in intransitive MWVs (Let's get out of here before Kong comes to!) But the 'rule' is best considered incorrect, not debatable. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 1 '17 at 23:12

I would say that when it comes to phrasal verbs, the preposition is not a true preposition, but rather a particle that is part of the phrasal verb compound. Therefore even when ending with what looks like a preposition, it has no prepositional function and you have ended the sentence with a verb.

If you say "that boy just threw up," you are not saying that he threw something into the air; you are not saying he threw something at all. You are saying that the boy performed an act of regurgitation. Full stop. Up is not a preposition in this sentence, it just looks like one.

  • However, "count on" is a phrasal verb that takes an object. And sometimes it's a phrasal verb, and sometimes not. You can count on your fingers, or you can count on someone to do something for you. – Xanne Jul 22 '17 at 7:24
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    A particle is a small word, usually a preposition, that can freely come between a verb and its direct object, as in "She took the suitcase down" ~ "She took down the suitcase. But "up" is not a particle in "That boy just threw up", since there is no object. In any case, it's not "threw up" that is a verb; it's just the lexeme "threw"; this is the word that takes the verbal inflections. So we have "Whenever he drinks, he throws up, but not *"Whenever he drinks he throw ups". – BillJ Jul 22 '17 at 9:30
  • @BillJ does that apply to all phrasal verbs? It sounds like it only works with the intransitive ones, but what about the transitive ones, e.g. "I'll look after him"? – Andrew Jul 22 '17 at 16:21
  • @Xanne well in the one case it is a phrasal verb, and in the other a verb plus preposition. – MAA Jul 22 '17 at 16:22
  • @BillJ throw up is a distinct verb from throw, as it has distinct lexical meaning which is lost in the absence of the particle up. Just like throw down. Just because a particle can come between a verb and it's object does not mean that they cannot occur on intransitive verbs. As far as psycholinguistic perception, the two parts of a phrasal verb are as integral as the two parts of a compound noun. If you take the bath out of bird bath, you have a completely different object. – MAA Jul 22 '17 at 16:26

If we accept the (debatable) rule that a sentence should not end in a preposition, are phrasal verbs an exception?

Yes. The second (and third) words of a phrasal verbs work more like adverbs than prepositions.

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