Dropped Prepositions



If you have read around Shestories, you will know that I have retired from my teaching position at Tidewater Community College (TCC).  So you may be surprised to find me writing about a committee meeting I recently attended at TCC. Long story short, let’s just say retired faculty are invited back from time to time for their corporate knowledge.

So there I was on a Tuesday afternoon usually spent on a brisk beach walk with another retired chum. The agenda was not too long, and the members of the committee, much to my delight, quickly moved through the first two items on the agenda. But then came the topic of  What do we do about dropped prepositions in our ESL composition classes?

 Oh dear, oh dear, dropped prepositions! Whatever will we do? But first let me explain a dropped preposition.

I graduated from high school in 2016.

I graduated high school in 2016.  (is the absence of from an error?). Hmmmm. I do not think so. Both are correct.


I gave my bike to him.

I gave my bike him. (is the absence of to an error?) I do not even have to think  about this one. That is an error.

This was kicked around the table with other interesting sample sentences  with dropped prepositions initiating other arguments – arguments only a group of ESL teachers with advanced degrees in linguistics would engage in. (My husband would have walked out of the room after the first ten minutes.)

Eventually it came to be understood that some members of the committee thought I gave my bike him was an example of language change,  i.e. everybody is doing it; therefore, this could not be counted as an error. However, others  around the table thought the deletion of the  preposition to an error.

And  then one member of the committee took a long look around the table and proclaimed:    IT MUST BE AN AGE THING.

It is moments like this that I greatly disappoint myself, for I am left speechless that someone could say such a thing, leaving unable to rouse up a suitable response. Of course, on my drive home I came up with several insults I could have thrown back, as this committee member is no spring chicken herself. However, by the time I pulled into my driveway I was more disappointed in myself for being so upset by something someone said, in this case a faculty member who holds the dubious honor of having received the most student complaints in given semester.

Racism, Sexism, Ageism. – insidious practices.  When you butt up against one of them, I suggest you remember what the best Dean I ever had told me. This was a long time ago, after a similar incident at a committee meeting, as we headed back to her office…….now we know that much more about her.









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