I'm currently writing an essay, and I'm not sure how to end the following sentence:

These books serve the important purpose of identifying and elucidating societal problems, which the readers...

What is the best way to end is:

  • which the readers might have been ignorant to/about.

  • to which the readers might have been ignorant.

I'm not certain if the second one is gramatically valid, otherwise I'd pick that one. The first sentence seems ok, but of course there's this unwritten rule that you should never end your sentences with a preposition. Are there perhaps other, better options?

  • Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
    – godel9
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 23:16
  • @godel9 lol, I know it isn't really a rule, but I'm still wondering whether or not my sentence is valid, regardless of preposition.
    – Phaptitude
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 23:22
  • I agree with the accepted answer, but if I had to pick a preposition for your original phrasing I'd go with of.
    – user230
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


I would avoid the use of the word ignorant, as it is often perceived as inflammatory or derogatory. Many people are ignorant (!) of its proper meaning, i.e. simply not knowing. It (wrongly) carries an implication of being stupid.

Also the tense needs to be better matched, so I have moved away from 'have been' to remain in the present tense set by These books serve...

So -
...which the readers may not know about.
...which the readers may not be aware of.

or, if you don't like the preposition at the end (personally I have no problem with it)

...of which the readers may not be aware.

I don't think this second construction works as well with know:

...of which the readers may not know has an awkward feel to it.

  • 1
    I would also suggest "readers" or even "some readers"; "the readers" gives the impression that anyone reading the books is likely to be more ignorant than anyone not reading them.
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:01
  • "of which the reader may be unaware" is how I would phrase it.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 15:46
  • I disagree your advice about the usage of "ignorant". There are plenty reasons why people are ignorant of the facts. It's a word that simply means "not knowing" and should not be drummed out of the English language, which has one of the richest vocabularies of any language.
    – Karen927
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 0:06

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