From The Week:
I hate to see people waste their time hunting down so-called mistakes that really aren’t mistakes at all. So consider this a public-service announcement in the wake of Monday’s National Grammar Day. Here are seven rules you really (really!) don’t have to worry about following.
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2. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition
The idea that it’s wrong to end a sentence with a preposition (from, with, etc.) was invented by the English poet John Dryden… in 1672. He probably based his objection on a bogus comparison with — you guessed it — Latin, where such constructions don’t exist. In any case, there is no basis to the rule in English grammar, and, once again, great writers have ignored it with no great loss to their prose or reputations. Jane Austen: “Fanny could with difficulty give the smile that was asked for.” Robert Frost: “The University is one most people have heard of.” James Joyce: “He had enough money to settle down on.” Trying to avoid ending with a preposition frequently ties you into the awkward knot of “to whom” and “to which” constructions. On a memo criticizing a document for committing this “error,” Winston Churchill allegedly wrote: “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”
It is true that prepositions are a relatively weak part of speech and, all things being equal, it’s desirable to end sentences strongly. So sometimes it pays to rewrite such constructions. Thus, “He’s the person I gave the money to” isn’t as good as “I gave him the money.”
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5. Don’t use the passive voice
The poster child for passive-hating is a quote from President George H.W. Bush. In a 1986 speech about the Iran-Contra scandal, he said, “Clearly, mistakes were made.” Just as clearly, the problem is that the grammar fudges a crucial question: Who made the mistakes? Passive construction can indeed propagate such obfuscation, as well as wordiness, and thus should be used judiciously. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, and when the subject of a clause or sentence isn’t known, or isn’t as important as the object, passive voice can be just the thing. Tom Wicker’s classic New York Times opening sentence of November 23, 1963, would have been ruined if he’d tried to shoehorn it into the active voice. Wicker wrote: “President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin today.”
Link to the rest at The Week and thanks to Meryl for the tip.