I received this email from Sooza the other night:
Dear Grammar Maven (aka Mrs. Chili):
Here’s one for you. Wayfarer and I are arguing over the following sentence:
“Around another corner, cataloger Lillie Lee worked on sorting the library’s immense moving image collection by title, some of which most people have never heard.”
He says that the “of” in the phrase “some of which” applies to the final “heard” as well. I say the copy editor saw the dangling preposition at the end and hacked it off, without rewriting the sentence to actually make sense.
Who’s right? And don’t worry — neither of us will try to unduly influence you. (But I’m right, aren’t I?)
love and blessings,
The first time I read the sentence, I thought that Wayfarer was, to put it in my delicate parlance, full of shit. It seemed to me that the phrase “some of which” refers to the titles (“some of” what? Some of the titles) and not to the hearing. It feels to me that we need the “of” at the end of the sentence so that we can clarify not only the titles, but the never having heard of the titles, too. If we were to rewrite the sentence, we’d need to say “of” twice – I’ve never heard OF some OF these titles. Right?
The sentence is just bad, and is a perfect example of why the “rule” about never ending a sentence in a preposition is, well, full of shit. While I think it’s abominable to end a sentence in “at” (Where’s the library at?) or “going to” (Where you going to?), there are instances where ending sentences in certain prepositions is not only acceptable, but also preferable. Lillie Lee was sorting the library’s collection by title; some of those titles most people had never heard of.
To paraphrase the immortal words of Winston Churchill; this is something up with which I will not put!
Happy Wednesday, Everyone! Keep those GW questions coming!!