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An apocryphal story tells how Winston Churchill in the World War II era was reprimanded by someone for ending a sentence with a preposition. Back then, we were sticklers for good grammar, sometimes at the expense of good communication. In response, Churchill supposedly wrote, “This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

While Churchill probably never said those words, the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition has been a standard for a long time. An ending preposition often signals the opportunity for better wording, but not always.

We sometimes allow “prepositional verbs” that include both the action and the sense of direction.

back off — If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll back off.
be in — What a pickle he must be in.
bend over — Bend over and take your punishment
black out — Not moving, he appears to have blacked out.
break down — Tim’s car broke down.
break up — Why did Jack and Jill break up?
bring up — Why did you have to bring that up?
burst in — Frantic with the news, she burst in.
call in — Did Bill call in?
call off — Has the search been called off?
calm down — Johnnie just needs to calm down.
charge with — Do you know what he’s been charged with?
check in — Is it too early to check in?
come down — It’s about time he came down to earth.
count on — Are you someone we can count on?
deal with — What are we dealing with?
do without — Eating isn’t something we can do without.
drop by — Did Jason say when he would drop by?
fence in — Don’t fence me in.
figure out — Jane is one person I’ve never been able to figure out.
get by — He makes barely enough to get by.
get up — How early did you get up?
go in — I believe we can now go in.
go through — The email wouldn’t go through.
hang out — This is a comfortable place to hang out.
hang up — In the middle of a conversation, it’s rude to hang up.
hurry up — Will you please hurry up?
mess with — He’s not the kind of guy you should mess with.
pass away — Both her parents have passed away.
pass out — Hold your breath long enough and you’ll pass out.
put on — He put his shoes on, without socks.
replace with — There’s nothing to replace it with.
rule out — The possibility cannot be ruled out.
run away — Did her teenage daughter run away?
see through — If it’s transparent, it’s something you can see through.
set up — Is the room set up?
show off — Jimmy, why do you have to show off?
shut down — The equipment was shut down.
sign in — Don’t forget to sign in.
sleep in — Did the kids let you sleep in?
slow down — A cop would tell you to slow down.
sober up — Coffee will help you sober up.
speak up — For me to understand, you’ll have to speak up.
spread out — The coach told his players to spread out.
stand around — You’ll be in trouble if you only stand around.
stand by — For an important message, please stand by.
start over — Did the teacher say we had to start over?
step aside — Will you please step aside?
stop by — If you want to see me perform, please stop by.
straighten out — Is this mess something we can straighten out?
throw up — The drunk staggered, leaned forward, and threw up.
turn off — The television needs to be turned off.
wake up — Johnnie, it’s time to wake up.
walk away — Without saying a word, they walked away.
work with — She’s a hard person to work with.