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In general, I am a bit confused when to use the prepositions at the end of a phrase.

What version should be correct?

  1. The reference to the class GenericClass does not specify what type the saved object has to be of.

  2. The reference to the class GenericClass does not specify what type of the saved object has to be.

Is there a rule when to use the prepositions at the end?

(Please, make me notice any other errors ;)

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    the of seems misplaced in (2), I would write it like _The reference to the class GenericClass does not specify of what type the saved object has to be. Your version could work, if you change type to the type. But in (1), the saved object is of a certain type, as it is in my (2). In your (2), the type of the saved object is something. Slight difference.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 16:32
  • Yes, your suggestion The reference to the class GenericClass does not specify of what type the saved object has to be. sounds better...
    – user9470
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 16:37

2 Answers 2

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I won't get into the construction of your sentence, but try to address your main concern - When should we use prepositions at the end of the sentence. Firstly, the term for this is 'terminal prepositions'.

Well, it has been a moot point among grammarians. I too had this question in past and it was unclear before I referred to several authentic sources. Most of the sources you find on the Internet and grammar books say that terminal prepositions are perfectly appropriate to end the sentence with! :)

In fact, avoiding terminal prepositions in some sentences make them weird. Compare...

Who were you talking to?

to

To whom were you talking?

The latter looks over-formal.

So, use them if the sentence looks natural to you and if it's not necessary, avoid it.

The source used for this answer is the video Ask the Editor from Merriam Webster.

As oerkelens says, The reference to the class GenericClass does not specify of what type the saved object has to be. looks natural here.

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Prescriptive grammarians (the kind who make rules about language rather than observing language to discover its rules) have frowned upon the terminal preposition.

English, as a Germanic language, uses terminal prepositions in everyday speech, though students are taught to avoid them when writing or when speaking, if they are in situations where they're supposed to "sound educated".

Why did you throw the lit match into the kitchen trash can? What were you thinking of?

That is a subject we don't speak of.

I'm going to the fall dance. --Who are you going with?

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