Which is correct:

1) Because of what did you do it ?

2) What did you do it because of?

And the second one:

1) Without what did you do it?

2) What did you do it without?

As I got it, we can use preposition both at the end and at the beginning while the beginning usage is more formal and the ending one is more slang-like. But do we have the same two options if the preposition(if those two expressions are prepositions but not some other sentence parts) is longer than the usual "in", "about", "with" and so on.

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You are right in your feeling that beginning your question with the preposition is more formal than ending with it.

When it comes to some of those longer, less common prepositions, I think forming questions with them is a lot more awkward, and less natural. People would often tend to rephrase the question in a way that would avoid that particular preposition.

In particular the questions you use as examples seem to be so unusual that it's hard for me to gauge which one (of each pair) would sound more formal and which more slang-like.

In the first example pair, people would typically not even form a question using "because of" since we have the word "why" which is specifically intended for that kind of question.

In the second pair, I'm having trouble imagining a situation where a person would inquire about what wasn't used ["What did you do it without?" ... Isn't that like asking how many accidents didn't happen?]

However, from this list of prepositions, there are a couple of longer ones that might be a little more suited to example questions:

  1. "underneath" -- "Which bed did you find them underneath?" or "Underneath which bed did you find them?" more formal

  2. "in lieu of" -- "Who [whom] are you volunteering in lieu of?" or
    "In lieu of whom [who] are you volunteering?" more formal

Although those questions might be more naturally reworded as, "Where, exactly, did you find them?" and "Who are you subbing for?"

In those 2 examples (which sound a little less awkward to me, ... meaning no insult toward your own examples of course), the second choice (preposition at beginning) still sounds more formal than the first.

So, in answer to your question, yes, you do have the same two options for preposition placement whether the preposition is a long one or a short one. And the situation is the same regarding formality/colloquial-ness.

  • Okay, thank you a lot but what if the sentence is really long, should I put the preposition at the very end like here: What building did you throw a stone (which had been found by you and two of your friends while walking to the mountain discovered long ago before you) BEHIND? Or some other kind of a sentence, if this one is not very suitable, where I want to put the preposition at the end. What to do then? – Michael Azarenko Feb 16 at 9:02
  • @Michael Azarenko -- What then? I think the guidelines of English usage remain the same, long or short sentences. ... But as the sentences get extremely long and convoluted they might start to sound humorous. Like the one you mentioned, about finding the stone behind the mountain a long time ago. At that point, when things get too complicated to even remember the beginning of the sentence by the time you get to the end of it, if you really mean to communicate, something's got to give. Maybe you ought to split up the thought into bite size sentences, and give your audience a break. – Lorel C. Feb 16 at 16:03
  • No, no, I know, but due to the rules, the word "behind" should be at the very end of the sentence anyway, shouldn't it? Just according to the grammar. – Michael Azarenko Feb 16 at 16:12
  • As you say in your original question, you could also put "behind" at the front: "Behind what building did you throw ...?" Either way is just as good. With the prep. at the beginning, it sounds way more formal and legalistic, but at least you don't have to store that little word, "behind", up in short-term memory for the whole length of the sentence until you can end with it. – Lorel C. Feb 16 at 16:44
  • What could that fellow who apparently has a perfectly good command of the English language be asking so many questions about prepositions in those impossibly long sentences for [anyway]? --- See, it works, sort of. – Lorel C. Feb 16 at 17:12

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