The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 May 2003

And don't start sentences with conjunctions

John Rosenberg was canny enough to end a posting with this sentence:

Besides, as every good grammarian knows, you should never end a sentence with a proposition.

A commenter astutely riposted, "That, sir, is the sort of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."

Now I said all that to say all this: Once upon a time, Games magazine, taking note of the "prepositions are inappropriate words to end sentences with" rule, held a competition to see if anyone could stack two, even three of the pesky little words at the end of a sentence.

Certain liberties were taken with the definition of "preposition", I think — some of these look suspiciously adverbial to me — but the winner managed a string of five. It requires some setup, of course.

Child sleeps upstairs; family library is downstairs. Parental unit brings up a storybook; child rejects it, complaining, "What did you bring that book I didn't want to be read to out of up for?"

This is, I believe, up there with the old saw about how two negatives make a positive, but two positives will never make a negative.

Yeah, right.

Posted at 11:44 AM to General Disinterest


Hey, buddy...love that punchline..
Yeah, right!
I had my account taken over by some a**hole and now it looks like it's all taken care of, but it pisses me off!
BAH!
Found ya thru blogsnob...kewl site...keep up the good work!

Posted by: Regina at 7:07 PM on 15 May 2003

Re that old saw about negatives and positives: I have it on good authority that Sidney Morgenbesser, a retired (and maybe dead by now) philosopher at Columbia for many years sat through a long, boring, pedantic paper at a philosophy convention making the old saw's point, after which he stood up and said "Yeah, Yeah" in his New York accent, and brought the house down.

Posted by: John Rosenberg at 7:09 PM on 15 May 2003

Now that would have been worth seeing. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:33 PM on 15 May 2003

I've heard the "up with which I shall not put" attributed to Churchill. No idea if it's correct or not.

Posted by: bigwig at 9:40 PM on 15 May 2003

It should be, "What did you bring that book that I didn't want to be read to out of about Down Under up for?"

Posted by: m at 10:41 PM on 21 September 2003