There are many rules of grammar to remember, and while you can get away with a bit of casual flair and a little less rule-following in your speech, writing is a different story entirely. When you put something down on paper, your audience has plenty of time to scrutinize it, and they’re far more likely to notice a slip. It’s also important to get your students on board with the finer points of grammar in their writing, as it will reflect on them for years to come — everything fro standardized tests to college essays and even a quick email depends on strong, clear communication.
Most people have some rules floating around in their heads from elementary school: “I before E except after C” and “Never end a sentence with a preposition” come to mind. These can sometimes be particularly unhelpful, especially if you get them mixed up or aren’t sure if your friend from study hall was actually right about any of it. This leads to a lot of questions and maybe even a panicked Google search or two when it comes time to teach grammar. After all, you don’t want to get it wrong and have your students making mistakes for the next 20 years!
Is It Okay to End a Sentence With a Verb?
In English we tend to have some hang-ups about how to start and end a sentence. These rules were probably developed as suggestions to make your writing a little easier, but when you get stuck on them, they can actually make your writing less clear — or worse, incorrect.
So can you end a sentence with a verb?
This happens all the time, and it’s due to the overall structure of English, not any kind of mistake.
Subjects and Predicates
At its most basic, a sentence needs just two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is the thing that acts or exists in the sentence, and it’s usually a noun or a pronoun. The predicate is the action and any other explanatory detail that comes after the subject. It must consist of a verb — or action — at minimum, but can go on for quite a while with additional phrases and clauses to make the sentence more informative. For example:
The man walked to the store.
In this sentence, “The man” is the subject and “walked to the store” is the predicate. This is a complete, correct sentence.
However, sentences can be even shorter than that. What if we don’t care where the man went? Let’s get rid of the prepositional phrase “to the store”:
The man walked.
The subject is the same, but the predicate is much shorter: “walked.” Still, the only rule for a predicate is that it must have a verb, and this one fulfills that requirement. This is just one example that shows how a perfectly grammatical sentence can end in a verb. It happens all the time!
Here are some additional examples of sentences that — correctly — end in verbs:
- I think, therefore I am.
- The dog barked.
- I said it’s time to go.
- The girls walked and talked but did not sleep.
- My mother likes to drink before she eats.
Sometimes ending your sentence with a verb may feel like you’re cutting it short and not giving enough information. After all, a short sentence like “The boy swims” doesn’t tell us very much. Still, it isn’t wrong. There are plenty of good reasons to continue that sentence past the verb, but it’s strictly optional.