Be warned: given my record as a grammar stickler, what I’m about to say may shock you.
I think the time has come to rewrite the rules.
Well, not all the rules. Just one, really. (Okay, two, if you consider that I’ve already embraced complete anarchy on the matter of sentence fragments.) And what, you may ask, am I rambling on about?
Just this: I think it’s time to rid ourselves of the archaic notion that it’s wrong to end a sentence with a preposition.
*pause for collective gasp*
After all, when it comes to the spoken word, we already have a deeply entrenched habit of doing just that.
In school: Johnny, who did you just throw that whiffle ball bat at? If you don’t stop throwing whiffle ball bats at people, you won’t have anyone left to play with.
On the job: You other guys can pay your bills if you want to, but I know what I’m going to spend my paycheck on!
In marriage: It’s not that I don’t find chess tournaments fascinating, dear, but isn’t there anyone else you can go with?
At home: Mom, Caleb’s nose just froze solid and broke off, but he still won’t come in!
Of course, common oral usage alone is not enough to render a grammatical construction unobjectionable (see: “aight”, “nucular”, and “ain’t no never mind” for examples), but it certainly merits a deeper investigation by the grammar police. (And while we’re on the subject, who are these grammar police, anyway? Is this an elected office or an appointed one? Shouldn’t we get to vote? If my word usage is being curtailed, I need to know that the curtailer has at least a passing understanding of poetic license, the all-purpose excuse I invoke to cover my personal grammatical anomalies.)
Sure, I could rewrite my sentence to say: “At whom did you throw the whiffle ball bat, Johnny?” And Johnny, unexpectedly gripped by the complexities of proper prepositional usage, might just halt his reign of terror long enough to query: “Huh?” But in the end, it makes for a dreadful sentence, a sentence marked out by all the other sentences, enraged by its high-falutin’ snobbery, for metaphorical playground whiffle ball bat attacks. To put it simply, as a grammatical companion, “whom” is a bit of a dud.
I know, I know. Just by writing this I’m running the risk of having Strunk and White break into my home to take away my copy of Elements of Style. Fortunately, in my thorough research of this issue (by which I mean a single Google search for the term “ending sentence with preposition”), it has come to my attention that I am not the only prepositional rebel out there. In fact, there is a whole groundswell movement of actual grammarians who agree with me. Some of them even went to college.
You can do what you like, of course, but as for me, I’m going to give “whom” the wedgie he deserves and start ending my sentences with prepositions wherever I think it looks and sounds right.
Some rules are just plain silly.
Or, as Winston Churchill once said it: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”