It’s Time to Trim the ‘At’

By Haven Lindsey  in  Manna from Haven  on  02.26.2021

I grew up in the south. Southwestern Virginia, to be exact. I had family who lived in Appalachia, I knew people who had moonshine in their bathtub and hound dogs under the porch. It was not highfalutin, fancy living but it was stunningly beautiful and people were good to one another. We said “y’all” and if the grownups weren’t listening we said “ain’t” but we quickly learned to trim the ‘at’.

Ending a sentence in a preposition is considered informal but it’s not grammatically incorrect. It is, however, a bit like taking some nice grammar-like fingernails and running them down a chalkboard. It’s time to trim the ‘at’, because while it’s technically ok – it’s redundant. And redundancies are not not helpful. In fact, redundancies in the the written and spoken word can be be so distracting that they they will minimize and undermine your your message and could make some some question your capabilities capabilities.

A few days ago I got a chuckle out of an online instant message conversation with a colleague. We laughed (more accurately, we shared laughing emojis) about our internal response to very popular phrases. We laughed at our bias. She recoils whenever someone says they’re going to “ping” her and I try not to break out in hives when someone says they’re going to “circle back”.

We all use catchphrases that probably send others reeling but the increasing use of the word ‘at’ by well-educated people everywhere when it’s not necessary is, at best, puzzling. ‘At’ is everywhere. I hear it on the news, I’ve read it in otherwise formal business proposals and in real estate contracts. My online yoga instructor – an intelligent young entrepreneur – utters over and over, “this is where we’re at”, “this is where your shoulder should be at in relation to your knee.”

Folks, we don’t need the ‘at’ – it’s not doing anyone any good. We didn’t need it in the boonies of my youth and we don’t need it in modern society. You can always stop at the word before – enjoy your drop the mic moment one word sooner and save the energy. “This is where our team is at.”, can easily be trimmed to, “This is where our team is.”  “Where is he at?” can be trimmed to, “Where is he?”

For someone who was reared in a downhome, folksy region of the country that isn’t necessarily known for its command of formal language, I learned that if I asked, “Where’s Granddaddy at?”, the response would be 100% of the time, “Behind the ‘t’”. The message sunk in. I learned to trim the ‘at’. It’s time we all did.

Make in meaningful,

~ Haven