Mordechai Schiller began his column about outdated grammar rules (“Splitting Infinity,” May 29, 2019) with a quiz:
“List three grammar rules you never heard of.”
I’m still laughing.
I can’t help but wonder, was that just a tricky introduction to the subject of ending a sentence with a preposition? Or, did Mr. Schiller inadvertently violate the very “rule” he and Fowler claim does not (should not?) exist.
Keep up the great work!
Chaim Fuhrer, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Schiller responds:
Thank you for your kind words. I need all the encouragement I can get.
Was it just a tricky introduction? Under the Miranda rule, I have a right to remain silent. But, in the spirit of transparency I’ll fess up.
(Transparency — what an odd word for honesty and clarity. How did that come into vogue? Makes me feel like I’m wearing a plastic bag over my head. Whenever you hear a politician talking about being transparent, you can bet you’re seeing him through a windshield thick with ice and bug splats.)
Yes, it was a trick, but not a dodge to end a sentence with a preposition. It was a way of getting people to read a discussion only a diehard grammarian could care about. How many participles can dance on the head of a pin?
I had to get past the resistance to get into the real issue: There are rules that have been or, as you say, should be, repealed.
There, I said it.
My pre-, past, and current position is that you can put those thingies wherever you’re at.
And if I made you smile, you made my day.