The sentence

"I am only willing to talk to people on whom I look down."


"I am only willing to talk to people I look down on."

but the problem is that the first sentence sounds too formal, so is there a way to say this informally without ending with the preposition "on"?

  • 2
    This is something up with which I cannot put. – Ben Jackson Jan 27 '19 at 0:58
  • 3
    But you don't have to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition! That silly notion was promulgated centuries ago by people who thought "elegant" English should obey Latin rules of grammar. News flash: it doesn't and shouldn't. – Robusto Jan 27 '19 at 1:55
  • It's impossible to answer this without there being a clear definition of too formal. Consider this: People I look down on are the only people I'm willing to engage in conversation. That sentence neither uses on whom nor does it end in a preposition. But do you still consider it too formal? – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jan 27 '19 at 16:16

With the construction you are using, it's not really possible. All you can really do is use a synonymous adjective, like "inferior":

I am only willing to talk to people who I consider inferior, compared to me.

But that's a bit clunky as well. I don't think there's really a way to express this meaning in an informal way.

  • 1
    Yes, but you can avoid the clinkiness by saying "I only talk to my inferiors." Or, if you want to retain "look down," you can say "I look down on those I bespeak." The latter does sound a bit pretentious, but then it fits the sentiment. – Jeff Morrow Jan 27 '19 at 1:23
  • "who I consider inferior, compared to me" is more than a "bit" clunky. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 27 '19 at 14:05

This is a matter of opinion. You might sound terribly informal and "talky" to someone whose feel for language comes only from what they've read in style manuals that look down on writing that ends sentences on a preposition. But you might sound natural to someone who feels that language should be closer to the spoken idiom. There is no objective arbiter you can rely on.

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