Sorry if I lured you into reading under false and salacious pretenses.  Actually, that’s not true.  I did it on purpose.  But keep reading.  The post is what’s short and hopefully sweet, but what’s loose?  “At.” “At” is a loose preposition (or proposition) as used by many writers.  Recently I heard someone say, “This is where your friends are at.”  That last preposition is on the loose and should be lost.  You don’t need “at”.  Just say “This is where your friends are.”  Simple and concise.  Even shorter would be “Your friends are here.”

If you listen, you’ll find “at” hanging on the ends of many sentences where it isn’t needed.  If any of those sentences are yours, do the caring thing.  Get rid of “at.”

As an added bonus, here’s one more loose preposition:  “for”.  How often have you heard, said or written, “What are you here for?”  Just say no to “for” when it’s unneeded.  Say, “Why are you here?”  If you’re a Friday Fictioneer or anyone else trying to make a word count, cutting these loose prepositions is not only grammatically better, but cuts out  eliminates unnecessary words.    “What did you want to do that for?” = “Why did you want to do that?” = “Why did you do that?”

This week, make a pledge to just say no to loose prepositions…or propositions!

  1. I hate that “at”. But unfortunately that’s how people talk. So when writing conversion it gives the character its own voice. Just as “what are you here for”is often asked by medical personnel. So I would think this would be the exception.

  2. billgncs says:

    I agree with all three 🙂

  3. You make good points for writing in general, Janet – but I’ll have to agree with Silentlyheardonce on this one for fiction writing. 🙂 It’s true that many people (see! I could have said “a lot of people”, but I got rid of two whole words!) use constructions that aren’t strictly grammatical or aren’t as concise as they could be, but characters shouldn’t sound too formal. I try to cut descriptions and explanations as much as possible to reach minimal word count, myself – except when I come up with a phrase I can’t bear to discard.

    As a general rule, I think I’d tend toward “Use correct, concise grammar unless you’re giving the words or thoughts of a fictional character; re-read your post and simplify the language, taking out as many polysyllabic words as feasible; then read it again and make sure every word is pulling its own weight and more – if not, cut it or change it.”

  4. Thanks for this post! Wish you were mom’s english teacher – hers was a jerk ;o)

  5. Makes a lot of sense. That is another of the ‘rules’ in writing I have seen in my writing resource books, but may often forget. I better go back and check out my own to see where, or if I have any preps and props like you mentioned. 🙂

    • As per the other comments, you might want to use these in fictional conversation, but overall I don’t think it hurts to use clean English if possible.


  6. Well, I’ll definitely be careful to avoid any loose propositions this weekend 😀

  7. at ta girl.
    for sure

  8. Tom Poet says:

    Where you at Rock? Where you at? Over here to the rear with the girls and 40’s of beer!

  9. Tom Poet says:

    I ain’t be got no weapon. Why you be got to pull a knife out on me?