Where you at?


Did you just cringe at the heading of this post? I did. In fact I shuddered the same way I would if I heard someone run their fingernails across a chalkboard. eeeeeeeeekkkkkkk.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Where you at?

  1. I can’t stand “Where you at”. This is one of the few things my husband and I are united on. If our kids say it, we make them repeat their sentance correctly before we will listen to them. We have the “like” problem too. We count the “likes” they use when they talk, and then make them say the sentance over without using “like” at all. Neighborhood kids don’t talk much in our house, because they know they will be corrected. 😉

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    1. Good for you, Jennifer! It’s a shame kids aren’t being taught in school anymore the correct way to speak. It seems to be looked over and accepted as the ‘norm’. If I were a grammar teacher, my students would hate me. 🙂 No slack.

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  2. i’m guilty of using “at” and “is” at the end of sentences. I think it’s a regional thing. I am from northwest Indiana and most of the people I know speak and write this way. It’s a hard habit to break when you have been raised this way.

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    1. I understand. 🙂 My own kids and husband say it and the poor things live with me. LOL! (we live in Florida, btw).

      Trust me, I have my own ‘writing’ and ‘speaking’ faults. For example, when I speak, I use the word ‘like’ all the time when I’m retelling a story. For example: “He was like jumping up and down and screaming and then he got in the other guy’s face like he was all big and bad.”

      My repetitive use of the word once drove a fellow writer so bonkers she took me aside after a local writers’ meeting and told me how much it drove her crazy, and she wouldn’t be back. Up until then, I didn’t even know I did it.

      Now, I’m very conscious of it and try hard not to use it, but sometimes my mouth regurgitates it. As to the other writer…she never came back to the meetings. I guess she served her purpose and I like learned my lesson (sometimes). 🙂

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