Good question for good native speakers

mike   Friday, August 01, 2003, 17:13 GMT
I'm just reading "My legendary girlfried" by Mike Gayle and much to my surprise I found a sentence that had me genuinely puzzled over the rules of logic in English. Here's the sentence;

'Haven't you got a home to go to?"

At first I didn't notice anything particular about its construction but after a more thorough investigation I began thinking how come there is the sodding preposition 'to' at the very end. I was taught at school that people 'go home' rather than 'go to home'. Why the heck did the author choose to use the preposition then? I'd be very glad if some native speaker explained the problem.
Tremmert   Friday, August 01, 2003, 17:43 GMT
I think you 'go home' but 'go to a home' - that is you'd definitely say you 'have a home to go to' and not 'you have a home to go'.
mjd   Friday, August 01, 2003, 18:35 GMT
You wouldn't say..... "he goes to home." This is incorrect. However, you do hear people say stuff like "He hasn't a home to go to." In the case of your sentence....."Haven't you got a home to go to?"

People do "go home," but to go home they require "a home to go to." Thus, if the character in your book appears homeless or is hanging about, the other character would ask of him "Haven't you got a home to go to?"
mike   Friday, August 01, 2003, 19:03 GMT
This is English!!! I've been learning English for 15 years and if I were to ask somebody the question I'd definitely go for "Haven't you got a home to go". It's good to find out such a simple sentence of mine would be a mistake. English never ceases to surprise me.

mjd   Friday, August 01, 2003, 19:11 GMT
You definitely need that "to go to" on the end or the sentence is incomplete. "Haven't you got a home to go" is incomplete because, if left alone, it implies that the house has somewhere to go. Haven't you got a home to go.....a home to go where? The "to" on the end detracts the focus from being on the home and redirects it back to the person or subject of the question.
dongordo   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 01:17 GMT
Prepositions at the end of sentences are common in spoken English. This is incorrect and your example should read: "Haven't you got a home to which to go?" or "Haven't you a home to which to go?"
I may still have it wrong but a classic example comes from Winston Churchill who was usually correct. In response to crticism from Lady Astor in parliament for ending a sentence with a preposition he responded: "Mr. Speaker, that is an insult, up with which I shall not put." Everyone laughed. If you understand the joke, then you understand.
zZzZz   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 01:58 GMT
that was funny.
Tremmert   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 17:42 GMT
Actually since 'put up' is the verb part it should be 'with which I shall not put up'
mike   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 18:15 GMT
I'm afraid Mr Churchill's witticism has been a bit more complicated but I can't recall it now. Maybe some Brittons could help out.


What do you mean the sentence is incorrect? Do you think an English writer could have made such a blatant mistake in his first book he's ever written?
mike   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 18:18 GMT
Sorry, on second thought, this is indeed how Churchill said that.
Julian   Sunday, August 03, 2003, 18:38 GMT
>>> Do you think an English writer could have made such a blatant mistake in his first book he's ever written?

Novelists don't always follow correct grammatical rules, especially when they're writing dialogue. They write in conversational English.

Personally, I think the rule that you can't end a sentence with a preposition is an outdated rule and should be thrown out. Sometimes it's hard to not end in prepositions and not sound too stuffy.
Jack Doolan   Monday, August 04, 2003, 07:24 GMT
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it.

Never use the passive where you can use the active.

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Often there are none. There is no everyday English equivalent to "restriction enzyme".

A preposition is a very bad word to end a sentence with.

It is poor practice to boldly split infinitives.

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Apologies to George Orwell
dongordo   Monday, August 04, 2003, 13:19 GMT
Good one Jack.
The end of a sentence is a particularly bad place to put a redundant preposition at. After all, one should watch their grammar.
Native Person   Monday, August 04, 2003, 15:19 GMT
Are you people being sarcastic?
Are you seriously saying that "Haven't you got a home to go to" is ungrammatical and therefore incorrect?
If so then I would throw you grammar books out the window and listen to some more native speakers, because if you change that sentence to something such as the previously suggested "Haven't you a home to which to go?" people will definitely give you strange looks.
You do realise that noone actually speaks "the queens english" right? In fact I'm pretty sure this 'no-prepositions-at-the-end-of-sentences' thing is something the French invented when the norman improved/destroyed old English and a bunch of scholars worked with when they got all excited about latin during the renaisance (sorry I know thats spelt wrong). I had never even heard of this rule until I started learning a second language.

Anyway back to the sentence I think it's fairly simple to explain:
I go home
I go to the home. (eg retirement home).
I go to a home.
I am guessing that articles may change the verb 'to go' into 'to go to' I'm not sure though. I do know you definitely can't say things like "I go the movies" thats incorrect.

The sentence "Haven't you a home to which to go?" sounds really weird, but "Haven't you got a home that you go to" sounds better. The original sentence is still the best. The final 'to' is definitely required for the sentence to make sense.
Lana   Monday, August 04, 2003, 18:37 GMT
'Rules' such as not ending with a preposition are attempts to apply Latin grammar to a Germanic language.