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prepositions in questions

 
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Lib



Joined: 02 May 2003
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 9:49 pm    Post subject: prepositions in questions Reply with quote

I'd like to hear a few opinions about the position of prepositions in questions. We've all heard the 'rule' about never ending a question with a prep. But do native speakers really do that? I, for one, would never say 'From where are you?' or 'For what did you buy that horrible hat?'
What do you people out there think?
Lib
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd almost always ask "Where are you from?" I'd also ask either "Why did you buy that horrible hat?" or "What did you buy that horrible hat for?" Most people that I know would also ask questions like these.

My opinion is that grammar books are more of a description of how people speak the language (at the time a particular grammar book was written) than they are manuals of how the language SHOULD be spoken. I know some would disagree. But for me, if many/most people "break" a particular "rule," then the "rule" is incorrect. Slang wouldn't be included in that thought(and I'm sure there are other cases) because slang will be completely changed in a few years. But usually, I think about it as I stated above.

Nice topic, Lib!
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Lib



Joined: 02 May 2003
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bud, I agree with you entirely.
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obelix



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right about how most of us speak, Bud, but I think you meant to say that grammar books are about how the language should be spoken but are always years behind the way we actually speak?
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why, did you think you saw my notes? Confused ...

No, Obelix, I did not misstate what I meant to say. To be clear, I think grammar books are very useful tools for those learning a language, but they are mere descriptions of a language at a point in time. They are not rule books.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bud wrote:
No, Obelix, I did not misstate what I meant to say. To be clear, I think grammar books are very useful tools for those learning a language, but they are mere descriptions of a language at a point in time. They are not rule books.


I'd like to add my two centavos.

I imagine that English speakers have been ending sentences with prepositions for centuries. This rule makes more sense for the German language which is much more precise than English, which after all is just a corruption formed from French (and therefore Latin) and German. The rule about split infinitives was thought up by grammarians because of the Latin roots of English - unfortunately the reasoning behind it is a bit weak.

One should also make the distinction between the written version of the language, together with its "correct" version taught to "professionals" and the language spoken on the streets. Street language in any country is always more fluid (and more interesting) than the educated "correct" version taught in schools and universities. Incidentally, it's usually the street language that adapts and changes the fastest, the schooled version only accepts changes very irregularly and with much protesting.

Finally, as a student of Spanish myself I have found that learning the basic rules of this language is only a very small part of the total. In order to communicate in everyday life a lot more study has to be done of colloquial structures, expressions and idioms. Grammar, in my opinion, is only a small part of any language, the aim of which is to describe in simple rules how sentence structures should be formed. It's never going to cover everything - usually far from it!

Iain
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