Hearing someone put ‘at’ at the end of a sentence does things to my nerves I can’t even begin to explain. I want to scream, rip my hair out. I literally have a physical reaction. It hurts my ears. Really. I’m not joking.
Why, why do people insist on putting the preposition at the end of a sentence? Don’t get me wrong. Not all prepositions at the end of a sentence are bad. For example: “What did you step on?” is a perfectly legit sentence. If we changed it around so the preposition was in the middle of the sentence, we’d all talk like Shakespeare – “On what did you step?” Noooooo. Not. Negatory. *shudder*
But to say “Where you at?” is so wrong on two levels. Let’s forget the fact that the verb ‘are’ is gone from the sentence, which is bad enough. I mean, really. “Where you?” It’s not even a complete thought. If you insert the verb, however, you have a complete sentence – Where are you?
So why do people (including my own teen boys) insist on putting an ‘at’ at the end of the sentence?
Where are you at? Doesn’t “at” imply that you are ‘somewhere’? Yeeessss. Does ‘at’ add any additional information to this sentence? Nooooooo. So why, why, why?
Argh, even as I write the sentence, I cringe inside. It gives me the eebbie jeebies. To say “Where are you at” is like saying “Where are you where are you?” Why would anyone do that?
But, unnecessary prepositions don’t just happen at the end of a sentence. They can happen in the middle, too, but these aren’t as irritating to me. A good example is: ‘He stared out of the window.’ The preposition ‘of’ can be completely eliminated because the sentence means exactly the same without it. “He stared out the window.”
What about phrasal verbs that end with a preposition such as “cheer up” or “lighten up” or ‘log on”? It is acceptable to end a sentence with these as they are phrases and have a specific meaning when used as a phrase. You wouldn’t say “She needs to cheer.” or “My teacher needs to lighten.” or “I’m going to log.” In these examples, you have to have the preposition at the end for the sentence to make sense.
But…Where you at?
I’m not trying to pick on anyone. I know it’s difficult to change the way we speak, especially when we grow up speaking this way. But as writers, we need to be very conscious about the words we say as well as the words we write. That’s all I’m saying.