Prepositions at the end or at the beginning of a question?

How long can you keep up this pace for? or For how long can you keep up this pace?

At what time does your train leave? or What time does your train leave at?

I've heard native English speakers saying it both ways but from a grammar standpoint which is the correct one? 


Apr 27, 2018 12:50 AM
Comments · 5
They're both absolutely correct, although putting the preposition at the beginning is considered more formal. In conversation, we usually put the preposition at the end.
April 27, 2018
I am a native English speaker. I was taught to never end a phrase with a preposition, but like all rules many are meant to be broken. It can depend on the sentence and the preposition. I hate when a question about location ends in "at". I notice that younger people use that expression all the time. My boyfriend, who is not young uses it. It drives me crazy. For example "Where is that?" sounds better than "Where is that at?" Or "Where are you?" Sounds better than "where are you at?" It's slang that crept in somehow over the las 20 years and you will hear people use it. On the other hand if someone said "Who are you with?" that sounds perfectly acceptable. I would always drop the word " at" if given a choice. "How long can you keep this pace up?" seems better than "For how long can you keep it up this pace." I think a good way to approach this is to listen to more native speakers. I think news anchors are a great guide, since they ask so many questions in their interviews. It's not a clear cut answer, sorry. I also think that when writing professionally, the preposition rule is more strictly observed.
April 27, 2018

Both are correct and have a long history in the English language. The poet John Dryden is said to have first questioned ending a clause with a preposition, and ever since it has at times been frowned upon. ("Frowned upon!") Some find it inelegant. But I always take Fowler as my unerring authority in everything English: " 'One of the most persistent myths about prepositions in English is that they properly belong before the word or words they govern and should not be placed at the end of a clause or sentence' " (quoted from Wikipedia).

I think, however, that when the verb and the final preposition don't follow in direct succession, as in your example ("How long can you keep up this pace for?"), the construction becomes somewhat awkward; in that case, "For how long can you keep up this pace?" sounds better.

April 27, 2018

How long can you keep up this pace for? 

What time does your train leave at?

Or you can just say, "what time does your train leave?" And "how long can you keep up this pace?"

These sound more fluent.

April 27, 2018
I agree with Robin K. I catch myself ending sentences with a preposition which I was always taught not to do. I almost always correct myself because I hate to not speak "properly". If you can help it, dont place prepositions at the end of a sentence but it will be okay if you do. It wont change the meaning and most people wont notice or care.
April 27, 2018
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language