Can I delete the last word ‘by’ in:

Who picked you up by?

Why? Can I delete the last word ‘by’? Why? I feel that ‘Who picked you up’ is a right sentence.

2 Answers 2


Who picked you up?

Is indeed the correct way to word the sentence.

When using 'who' as the subject of a sentence in the active voice, you don't need a preposition. However, you do need a preposition when you put it in the passive voice

Who(m) were you picked up by? (informal)

By whom were you picked up? (formal)

Technically 'whom' should always be used when 'who' is the object of the sentence. In practice very many (perhaps most) English speakers would say 'who'.

  • So do you think the sentence 'Who picked you up by?' is wrong?
    – Y. zeng
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 1:02
  • Yes. It does not make sense when used with verbs in the active voice.
    – fred2
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 1:04

We would never add the word "by" to the end of that sentence. If you are asking someone the name of the other person that took them away in a vehicle, then "Who picked you up?" would be the only correct sentence.

"By" indicates a method or a period of time. For example: "You need to be home by 11pm," or "By what route did you arrive?"

Also, "by" is a preposition. We do not end sentences with prepositions in English. "Up" is also a preposition, when used alone. In this sentence "up" is part of a two word verb "pick up," which makes it function as a verb, so it isn't a preposition in this sentence.

  • 2
    -1 for "We do not end sentences with prepositions in English". As Churchill is reported to have said, This is the sort of pedantic nonsense up with which I will not put! Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 16:23
  • Native English speakers end sentences with prepostions all the time. It is often considered 'wrong', but if so, most English speakers are wrong. As Churchill is alleged to have said, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." Insisting on avoiding ending sentences with prepositions often results in very awkward-sounding phrases.
    – fred2
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 16:26
  • Though occasionally it sounds wrong with the preposition at the end, and better when you 'fix' it. Usually, not.
    – SamBC
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 17:03

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