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  1. angliholic's Avatar
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    #1

    Smile He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    He wanted to help us, but he was not able.
    He wanted to help us, but he was not able to.



    Do both of the above sound good to you and mean pretty much about the same? Thanks.


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    #2

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.

    Prepositions Ending a Sentence
    The word preposition was coined because such words normally precede the position of their objects in a prepositional phrase. Some people then took this definition to mean that a preposition always had to come before its object and, surely, could never end a sentence.



    This "rule" does not always apply when a subordinate clause comes before a preposition. British and Americans agree that one twentieth-century figure who demonstrated excellent command of English in speech and writing was Sir Winston Churchill. Once, when he worked for the Admiralty in World War I, he was rebuked by a superior for putting a preposition at the end of a sentence. He replied by writing back an ironic apology saying that it was "the sort of English up with which I will not put." Of course, that was much more awkward than "something I will not put up with." He made his point.



    Some editorial guidelines, especially in England, still call for this "rule," but it is passing. Still, if you think that some people in your audience may be sticklers for this practice, it is better to follow it. Sometimes good will is more important than concise style.


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    #3

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Quote Originally Posted by angliholic View Post
    He wanted to help us, but he was not able.
    He wanted to help us, but he was not able to (help).



    Do both of the above sound good to you and mean pretty much about the same? Thanks.
    To me this is not "ending a sentence with a preposition", help is implied here.

    There is perhaps a slight difference.

    #1 he cannot help because he is not healthy or capable enough to render assistance.

    #2 Can mean the same as #1 but also it could mean that he was too busy or had other priorities.


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    #4

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Naamplao, Are you saying that the word "to" is not a preposition?
    I think a lot of people will disagree with you about this.
    to
    Main Entry:
    Pronunciation:
    \tə, tu̇, ˈtü\
    Function:
    preposition


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    #5

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hi_there_Carl View Post
    Naamplao, Are you saying that the word "to" is not a preposition?
    I think a lot of people will disagree with you about this.
    to
    Main Entry:
    Pronunciation:
    \tə, tu̇, ˈtü\
    Function:
    preposition
    No...it is not a preposition.

    I believe "to" is being used here as part of a phrasal verb modal "to be able to"

    check this weblink...there are others to look at as well

    Modals Can Be Able to for ESL EFL Classes and English students


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    #6

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    hmmm. I guess all the dictionaries must be wrong =)


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    #7

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hi_there_Carl View Post
    Still, if you think that some people in your audience may be sticklers for this practice, it is better to follow it. Sometimes good will is more important than concise style.

    Hi there Carl,

    I'm always amazed when I hear this suggestion. No one would think it a good idea to let someone get away with passing on inaccurate information in any other area of study. Why is it necessary to give prescriptivists a free pass when they are the one who are wrong?


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    #8

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hi_there_Carl View Post
    hmmm. I guess all the dictionaries must be wrong =)
    Really, all dictionaries define "to" as a preposition???

    It can be an adverb also as defined in The American Heritage Dictionary.

    to. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

    We were relieved when the patient came to.

    When defining an infinitive "to" isn't a preposition either. These are some cases where "to" is not a preposition.

  2. angliholic's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Thanks, my dear friends.
    Got it.


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    #10

    Re: He wanted to help us, but he was not able.

    Public Apology

    Naamplao, I understand your point. I do not disagree. Riverkid, your point is also valid. I did not convey my though clearly enough and that is my mistake and I apologize. The point I was trying to make is that even though both forms are correct, I think it is better to not end the sentence with the word "to" especially in formal or business writing.

    Most English speakers are aware of the "preposition sentence ending rule" and while there are obvious common exceptions, in formal or business writing, it is best to avoid ending sentences in this way. Even though you are right, if your boss reads it and remembers the "rule" he will raise his eyebrows. Sometimes it is worth arguing with the boss but sometimes it is not. I guess it depends on the boss.

    That said Angliholic, what are you waiting for?

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