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I have read an article, and encountered a sentence like this "..., we shall be sure to conquer and overcome every difficulty we meet with.".Then I have a question about the use of the preposition "with" at the end of the sentence. Can we just say "overcome every difficulty we meet"? It seems that the verb "meet" can be transitive. And why we use "overcome every difficulty we meet with"? What is the difference? Thanks for you kind answer!

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    You seem to be a bit surprised that "meet", as you say, "can be transitive". In fact it us usually transitive and Lexico provides only transitive examples. In fact the only examples of intransitive use I can think of are ones like "we meet on Saturdays" and "the group met to discuss the way forward" where there is a mutual coming together. More commonly "meet" is transitive in sentences like "I met John in the street" or "He met the woman he was to marry at a party" – BoldBen Feb 1 at 5:53
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Typically, in formal writing, you would not place a preposition at the end of a sentence. Yet, in common speech, it is common to use a preposition at the end.

Informal:

Who shall I give this pie to?

Formal:

To whom shall I give this pie?

In this case, the preposition at the end doesn't seem to make much sense. But, to answer your question, it wouldn't be wrong. And, yes, they could have just left it out.

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  • I'd say that 'to' at the end make's perfect sense. Here, it's simply changed it's function. It's no longer a preposition, as in pre the verb. After all, language does change and that's the point of descriptive linguistics. – Mozibur Ullah Feb 1 at 8:39
  • @MoziburUllah Yes, it does make perfect sense. It's only a matter of being formal or informal. – BreWoodsy Feb 1 at 12:03
  • Thanks a lot, very straight-forward! – Draco Chan Feb 2 at 6:22
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The idea that a terminal preposition is unacceptable was promoted by Dryden, who argued that, being pre-position (Latin pre, before), it could not be last. Such grammatical sophistry has fallen out of favour and was debunked, for example, by Winston Churchill:

Here is the longest quotation I have ever posted on this site. It comes from Merriam Webster, is full of amusement and good sense and I commend it to you.

Where did this rule come from?

There is some disagreement as to how we came to cluck our tongues at people who finish off their sentences with an of, to, or through, but it is agreed that it’s been bothering people for a very long time. Many people believe that the rule originated with the 17th century poet John Dryden, who in 1672 chastised Ben Jonson: "The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him.” Jonson probably didn’t take much heed of this admonition, seeing as how he was dead, but untold millions of people have suffered in the subsequent years as a result.

Nuria Yáñez-Bouza has proposed an alternate theory: she discovered that, several decades prior to Dryden, an obscure grammarian named Joshua Poole took a similar position in his book The English Accidence. Poole was more concerned with prepositions being placed in "their naturall order," and did not mention the end of the sentence as specifically as Dryden did.

If we are to be fair we may credit Poole for creating the rule, and Dryden for popularizing it. Both Dryden and Poole were likely motivated by a desire to make English grammar more in line with Latin, a language in which sentences syntactically cannot end in prepositions.

In the 18th century, a number of people who liked telling other people that they were wrong decided Dryden was correct and began advising against the terminal preposition. Sometimes, the advice was to not end a sentence with a preposition. At other times it was more general, as Poole’s rule was. For instance, Noah Webster, in his 1784 book on grammar, took care to advise against separating prepositions "from the words which they govern." He did allow that "grammarians seem to allow of this mode of expression in conversation and familiar writings, but it is generally considered inelegant, and in the grave and sublime styles, is certainly inadmissible."

However, by the time the 20th century rolled around most grammar and usage guides had come to the conclusion that there was really nothing wrong with terminal prepositions. In fact, there has been, for about 100 years now, near unanimity in this regard from usage guides. The matter must therefore be settled, mustn’t it?

No, it must not. A quick look at newspapers from the past year indicates that there are still a number of people who find the terminal preposition an abomination, enough so that they are willing—perhaps, one imagines, even eager—to write letters to the editor of any newspaper in which they find it.

Why do both editorial and letter writers have to flagrantly split the infinitive? And lastly, ending a sentence with a preposition is something we can do without!

— letter to Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), 17 February 2016

I would think a State Columnist would know correct English, unless this was done to get people's attention. It sure got mine. The first sentence of the second paragraph, "Here's where we're at". Really...No sentence should end in a preposition. It should be, "Here's where we are". If it wasn't done on purpose, I would suggest Patrick go back to English Grammar 101 before he writes his next column.

— letter to Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, 15 February 2016

Conventional wisdom would figure that a Canadian citizen is a Canadian, regardless of status. Plus, you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition.

— The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), 25 September 2015

It would appear that some people are determined to hold on to this rule, no matter how many times they are informed that it really isn’t one. In a similar vein, many people who like to use terminal prepositions will give some mangled version of a quote from Winston Churchill, "This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put." The linguist Ben Zimmer has conclusively demonstrated that, as is the case with so many Churchill quotes, this was almost certainly never said by him.

If you don’t like to end your sentences with prepositions, you don’t have to—just don’t say that it is a rule. And if you like to end your sentences with a succinct with, go right ahead and keep doing so—just don’t quote Winston Churchill when someone says that you shouldn’t.

Merriam Webster

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  • Somebody downvoted Merriam Webster? Unusual. Care to say why? – Anton Feb 1 at 8:46

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