The English Language’s Biggest Lie – 英会話・英語 アミック
At least in the American education system, every high school student gets drilled into their head a number of English “rules” that we later learn are completely false: don’t begin a sentence with “And” or “But”; paragraphs must be at least three sentences long; never split infinitives, and many others.
Perhaps the most famous and well-known of these misconceptions is that a sentence cannot end in a preposition (e.g., “Where is my coat at?” should instead be “Where is my coat?”).
Grammarians have been pushing back against this myth for literal centuries, arguing that these stranded prepositions are perfectly fine in modern English. For example:
What did you put that there for? is much more natural than For what [reason] did you put that there?
The same goes for The match was rained off. versus Rained off was the match.
So who’s to blame for this confusion?
According to Wikipedia, the guilt falls on the pen of Englishman John Dryden. A poet and playwright, Dryden argued in a 1672 essay that since Latin (seen as a more elegant language) sentences cannot end in prepositions, neither should English ones.
Even with so much opposition and most modern grammar resources (from Fowler’s Modern English Usage to the internet’s Grammar Girl) dispelling and denouncing the myth, for some reason it lives on and is still taught in classrooms today.