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Ville's Preposterously Placed Prepositions Writing Challenge

Submissions to the preposition writing challenge are temporarily closed

They reopen on Monday 5th October 2020

Quick links on this page:

rules & submit - about the preposition challenge - read preposterously placed prepositions

Chris Fielden and Ville Nummenpaa

Chris Fielden & Ville Nummenpää, at Marble Arch in London

Welcome to Ville's Preposterously Placed Prepositions Writing Challenge. To avoid ending sentences with a preposition is common writing advice. This writing challenge invites you to end EVERY sentence in a flash fiction story with a preposition.

You can learn more further down the page, in the about the preposition challenge section.

Rules & How To Submit

Submissions to the preposition writing challenge are currently closed

They reopen on Monday 5th October 2020

Please DO NOT send a submission before that date – submissions made before then will be ignored

Rules are simple the:

  • 100 words max
  • please include a title for your story (not included in the word count)
  • end each sentence with a preposition. Why? Because, according to some nit-pickers, you're not supposed to
  • entry fee is either £1,000,000, or £0, but nothing in between - in other words, FREE unless you're a millionaire
  • anyone can submit - it's not a competition, everyone who enters is a winner
  • 1 entry per mammal
  • no profanity please - all the writing challenges are shared with children
  • your preposition-packed prose will be published on this page
  • every time we receive 100 stories, we'll publish all of them in a book - 1 book has been published via this challenge and, due to time constraints, in July 2020 the challenge became website publishing only - I'm afraid that means there won't be anymore books published via the preposition writing challenge
  • profits made through anthology sales will be donated to charity
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • when anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story by filling in the comments form below or email me
  • include a short biography (40 words max) for use in the published book - if you don't supply a bio, we will be unable to publish your story
  • include 1 link (optional) to your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. we're no longer accepting links, sorry

So far, we've received 110 stories and published 1 anthology.

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About the Preposition Writing Challenge

In the past, school children were taught that they should never end a sentence with a preposition (largely, it seems, due to rules that apply to Latin). While it is now widely accepted that ending sentences with prepositions is part of the structure of modern English, it is still important to understand when this is acceptable and when it is not.

In this challenge, we ask you to place your prepositions preposterously and end EVERY sentence with one. The aim is to help writers better understand sentence structure and the correct use of grammar.

There are lots of useful resources to help you with this challenge. I found this one the most comprehensive:

  • A free eBook, containing English prepositions lists, written by Josef Essberger, which provides explanations, examples, exercises and more

These links are also very helpful:

And finally, Ville suggested sharing this.

Winston Churchill

Sir Winton Churchill, giving the preposition writing challenge his official endorsement

After one of the sentences in a speech Churchill had written was badly edited so it didn't end with a preposition, Churchill is reputed to have said,

"This is the sort of English up with which I will not put."

True or not, it made me smile.

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About the Charity the Preposition Writing Challenge Supports

Proceeds from sales of the preposition writing challenge anthologies will be donated to Caring In Bristol.

Caring in Bristol

Caring in Bristol is a charity working to deliver support to homeless and vulnerable people in the city of Bristol in the UK. They also produce the Caring Handbook (previously called the Survival Handbook) - a book designed to be a point of reference for anyone finding themselves homeless in the Bristol area.

Money raised by this writing challenge will go directly to that project, helping to finance printing and distribution of the books to the people who need them.

I've done some creative writing workshops with Caring in Bristol via the Arkbound Foundation charity, of which I was a trustee. In the workshops, we encourage people with direct experiences of homelessness to contribute to the Survival Handbook. It's an amazing project and one that I feel very passionate about.

Ville kindly agreed to support this project with his writing challenge. Thanks Ville, you legend.

How The Preposition Writing Challenge Came To Be

Ville and I have liaised by email for a variety of reasons over the last few years. Ville has entered the To Hull And Back short story competition. He's submitted to many of the writing challenges run on this website. He and I both share a love of comedy, particularly Monty Python. And music, particularly Iron Maiden. And... I could go on. I won't.

When suggesting the challenge to me, Ville said:

An idea for a challenge: Ending sentences with prepositions-frenzy... ...I have always resented that 'rule', never to end a sentence with a preposition.

I keep hearing about that, and get the feeling it's just a very snobbish, intellectual-bully sort of thing, and it wakes up the little anarchist in me.

The idea appealed to me. And so, here the challenge is (see what I did there? I know, subtle...).

Here are a few more details about Ville and why he suggested the challenge:

My name is Ville, a has-been musician wanna-be. One of those rock stars who are neither rich nor famous. These days, I make ends meet as a writer.

In 2015 I took a leap of faith, and quit canning beer at a brewery to pursue a career in writing. Being a family guy, this was a bit of a risk, but it seems to have paid off. There is now a stage play in development and I´m currently finishing a complete TV-series of my own concept. I get some short stories published on occasion too, but there is always time to mess with English grammar (despite being Finnish, and lacking any kind of qualifications or credentials for doing so).

Since Chris is doing this awesome stuff on his site, it seemed like a golden opportunity to pitch an idea for a challenge. To my astonishment, he took the bait and here we are. Huge cheers to Chris, who is obviously doing the heavy lifting here.

I truly hope you will join this anarchistic stance, which is not only a heartfelt middle finger to the snobbish (and misguided) grammar police, but might also give you a new perspective on your own writing. You might get published and, this being charity, earn yourself a shiny new halo above your head. Win-win anyone?

Big thanks to Ville.

The first anthology – Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1 – will be published in September or October 2020. It contains the first 100 stories with terribly located prepositions submitted to the challenge.

We are still accepting submissions to this challenge and stories will be published on this page along with author biographies. We will not be publishing anymore books via this writing challenge.

However, it's still a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know about Caring in Bristol and the amazing work they do.

As with all the writing challenges on this site, it's impossible to lose. Everyone is a big fat winner.

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Stories Overladen With Sentences Terminating With Prepositions

Below are all the stories we've received to date, stuffed with poorly placed prepositions. You may read them your computer on. Or your phone on. Or any device you favour on.

The stories are published in the order they were received.

Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1

Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1 will be the only book published via the preposition challenge. It contains 100 flash fiction stories written by 100 authors. You can learn more about the book here.

We received our 100th story on 14th July 2020. The first 100 stories submitted to the preposition challenge were removed from the website on 19th July 2020, when the book went into production. Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1 was published in October 2020.

Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1

You can read other stories that have been submitted to the challenge below.

The preposition challenge is now website publishing only.

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Prepositionally Challenged Volume 2: Stories 101 Onwards

Below, you can read preposition challenge stories from number 101 onwards. This collection of stories will not be published in a book, but will be available for the reading pleasure of the planet on this website as Prepositionally Challenged Volume 2.

Story 101

Turning It Off

by Ville Nummenpää

It was beeping again, there had to be something he could silence it with. It was deafening, infuriating, and everything between. Archibald tried every switch, but couldn't turn it off. Surely the power cord was something it could not function without? Nope, the beeping only grew louder when not plugged in.

In despair, Archibald eyed the shelf which the sledgehammer laid upon. A gift from aunt Margot, who, despite her many wonderful qualities, had a very large behind. A point besides.
Archibald laughed maniacally, as the hammer came down. Finally the machine was silent, shattered all across.

~

Ville Nummenpää Author Biography:

Ville just won a prestigious stage play-award in his home country, Finland, and is launching a new career writing for television, possibly cinema. He’s always up for writing something fun, under any excuse imaginable.

*

Story 102

An Old, Run Down Castle

by Sandra Orellana

A Duke gifted an old castle to his servant, who was hard to talk to. The servant didn't know what he'd gotten into.

One thunderous night, the servant's daughter was lying in bed and heard a ghost crawling beneath. She didn't realise it was the butler's son scaring her, trying to give her a break down. It worked; her madness meant she couldn't get by.

The servant took his daughter to be examined. He decided to leave the castle so his daughter's mind would not to go.

He lost the old castle, but the butler stepped in.

~

Sandra Orellana Author Biography:

Sandra Orellana is the author of The Arch Of Surprises and a children's book Leo's Bliss The Sky. She enjoys writing short stories for Christopher. She is working on her fourth book. She's an American living in San Miguel Allende.

*

Story 103

Twankie The Troll (By Terry Tapped Of The Troll Trackers Technical Team)

by Lesley Anne Truchet

Until now, we thought Twankie was the only troll left around.

Recently, we discovered a female troll; incredible, all things considered. Our team went to see Twinkie in the Cheshire hills she was living under.

We then flew Twankie (via Tapped Airlines) from the mountains in Nepal he was dwelling beneath. We introduced the pair with high expectations that they would get along.

Asked what he thought of his new 'wife', Twankie responded, "After having trolled 4,000 miles to meet her, I'm peed off.  She's ugly beyond... I've booked myself a return flight to Nepal, see you about."

~

Lesley Anne Truchet Author Biography:

Lesley Truchet has been writing for several years and has a number of short stories, articles and poetry published on paper and on the internet and is currently writing her first novel.

*

Story 104

More Observations The Wise Of, The Truth Concerning

by Christopher Fielden

"Does not matter, the colour their skin of."

"Peel their skin off, they are identical beneath."

They their Chi'ffa sipped, as did they always, the stars considering.

"Peeled a human have you, irrespective their pain of?"

"Indeed have I, attempting educate them to. Played the difference spot did we, but they're the same, their skin minus."

"Many humans stupid are, their 'intelligence' despite."

They thought awhile, the moon beneath.

"Most are decent, but."

"There is hope, this in view of."

"Opinions will change, time given."

And so concluded the 'Second Declaration of Great Truths', decreed the wise Yodas by.

~

Christopher Fielden Author Biography:

Chris writes, runs a humorous short story competition, plays drums and rides his motorcycle, sometimes to Hull. And back again. He runs a multitude of writing challenges and has published 1,000s of authors in support of charity.

*

Story 105

From Under

by Michael Rumsey

He'd done this before. She sat behind. What had he got into?

He stood on the pavement below. He looked up. Anything to oblige, but this was, over and above, far too heavy to carry up the four flights of stairs within.

Time was getting on. He phoned his wife to come down. No sign of neighbours either beneath or between the buildings along the street – near or far, no help around. 

Where was his wife at? She arrived breathlessly, ran towards the car, opened the door and stooped to look under.

"Hello, Mum, sorry, the lift is out."

~

Michael Rumsey Author Biography:

Michael is a regular challenge contributor, but finds the Preposition Challenge the most difficult to write. Introduced into the English Language 400 years ago to replace Latin inflections, Michael suggests prepositions are handy little explanatory aids to be used sparingly.

*

Story 106

Sup

by Allen Ashley

What's up?

Sit up

get up

stand up

 

Hands up

heads up

7 Up

 

Warm up

start up

pop up

upended

up to no good

 

Wise up

wake up and smell the coffee

 

Up, up and away.

Straighten up and fly right

 

Hurry up

wait up

buck your ideas up

 

Sign up

blown up

beaten up

up for grabs

Oops upside your head

 

Make up, make up, never do it again

 

Mix up

mess up

cock up

cover up

going up to the very top

give up

 

Speak up

sing up

shut up

time's up.

~

Allen Ashley Author Biography:

Allen Ashley is the President Elect of the British Fantasy Society. He is the co-creator of the Sensory Challenge. His latest book is the poetry collection Echoes from an Expired Earth (Demain Publishing, 2020).

*

Story 107

Pirating Around

by Danielle Cahill

I discovered a sloop in the creek, screened by a copse of trees in front. As I approached, the men were singing, as they swung on the ropes above. One of them stopped, offering his hand to me, leaning over.

"Welcome aboard."

Ignoring his hand, I swung myself up.

"Where are you from?"

"You ought to know – it's my land you're moored on." His breath whistled between his teeth, as he turned around. He bowed down.

"A thousand apologies," he said, grinning, "what a pickle I've got myself into. I'm afraid I have to take you prisoner – come below."

~

Danielle Cahill Author Biography:

Danielle Cahill is a writer, lawyer and soprano living in East London. She is working on a novel about three witches who live in Hackney and loves stories with a touch of magic.

*

Story 108

Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

by Geoff Holme

"Geoff, this Preposition Challenge is something I'm finding it difficult to get my head around. People don't say 'About what is it all?', but rather 'What's it all about?'"

"True, but this rule is meant for formal writing, rather than the everyday conversation we're indulging in."

"What if I simply end a sentence with an example of a preposition, such as 'underneath'?"

"Well, that's one with—"

"Or if I interrupt you before you can say '…one with which you'd get away', rather than '…one you'd get away with'?"

"You win: life's too short to invent capricious rules to worry about."

~

Geoff Holme Author Biography:

Geoff is retired and therefore free to spend most of his time trying to improve his writing. In a previous life, he wrote over 300 SPAMericks – go on, Google it.

*

Story 109

A Secret Affair

by Daniel Son

The place she had picked for a rendezvous felt like as much of a trap as any he was walking toward. Her mask of rose perfume and charm ultimately hid the ulterior motives that lay behind.

His blindness was apparent, as he failed to grasp the true intention regarding what her kiss was about. Her tactics of wholly captivating his attention crumbled every bit of sense left in him, leaving him vulnerable to the inevitable peril that hid below.

He fell for her, unknowing of the dangers that lurked within the shadows, inside and out

~

Daniel Son Author Biography:

Daniel Son is a High School student at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, NJ. He enjoys writing and lives with his family in Palisades Park, NJ.

*

Story 110

Prepositions Should Be Ended Sentences With

by Michael Hardy

The table had been eaten lunch at. That is, after all, what it is for.

The man was a regular customer at this cafe, but I didn't know the woman he was with. I didn't understand the topics that they had talked about.  I'm far from being the only person whose head their hifalutin discussion would have gone over. Apparently quantum chemistry, sacramental theology and constitutional jurisprudence were far from being the only subjects that they were experts on.

That's who I cleaned up after.

~

Michael Hardy Author Biography:

I have a Ph.D. with a major in statistics and a minor in mathematics and I have taught those subjects at nine different universities. I have some competence in English, Esperanto, German, and a bit of Italian.

*

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Comments:

Your comments:

Clare T
This was quite tricky. Really enjoyed yours and Ville's efforts. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Clare :-) And thanks for submitting your fine story like :-)

Geoff H
Unfortunately, providing links to lists of words that *MAY* be prepositions does not guarantee that the use of a word from a list is actually used as a preposition.

The very first sentence in story 003, for instance, ends "...on the outside". Here 'on' is a preposition, but 'outside', although it *CAN* be used as a preposition, is here a *NOUN*; the use of the definite article 'the' before it makes that clear.

The very first sentence in story 006 is "His strength the more is." Obviously ending with a verb, not a preposition. (This may be due to the fact that it's not been made *TOTALLY* clear that, unlike other challenges, *EVERY* sentence must follow the rule.)

Story 034 has sentences ending:

  • "...after." (adverb)
  • "...to save." (verb)
  • "...in the past." (noun)
  • "...all hidden." (adjective)

You say in the rules that "anyone can submit - it's not a competition, everyone who enters is a winner", but if the challenge is to end *EVERY* sentence with a preposition, then surely entries that don't can't qualify, can they?

Chris Fielden
Hi Geoff. Thanks for this. Of course, you are right, some of the stories use words that could be prepositions, but are not due to the structure of the sentences they appear in.

However, the challenges are about learning and people having a go - primarily, having fun with writing. The first challenge we launched was a 'rule breaking' challenge, so I have kept that theme throughout and not been too strict with the criteria. That's part of the fun.

I think that having the mistakes in there, and you pointing them out, is more valuable than me correcting them. And, to be honest, I don't have an academic background, so am likely to miss some of these when editing - I find prepositions confusing myself, so am learning just by running the challenge with Ville.

What I'd like to do, if you are open to it, is use your comments in the introduction to the book, when it is published, so readers can learn from it. Would that be OK with you?

Geoff H
I'm fine with all your points and queries.

If you are relaxed about this, then OK; it is your challenge, after all!

I came across a list of words somewhere on the web that specified how each word could be used - preposition, adjective, adverb - but I can't remember where that was now... It can be difficult to work out in some instances.

Keep up the good work.

Chris Fielden
Hi Geoff. OK, great stuff - thanks for that.

I think the examples might be in the links above, in the 'about' section of the page. If not, similar ones should be there. One of them links to an eBook that has some pretty good explanations in it. If you do happen across the one you saw, please let me know. If it's not included in my links I'll add it!

Mike ST
This was a tricky one to do. After reading Geoff's comments above, I'm now not altogether sure if the prepositions in my story are prepositions in the way I've used them. But it's interesting to think about these things.

I would say challenges like this are pretty good for raising awareness of the mechanics of English, especially if we never had specialised 'grammar' lessons in school (I know I didn't).

Curiously, having studied various foreign languages, I'd have no problem telling you when a word does or doesn't function as a preposition in, say, German. But English? Ich habe keine Ahnung davon.

Chris Fielden
Hi Mike. You make a good point re learning the language. Like you, I didn't have grammar lessons at school, so playing around with words like this certainly helps. Apparently the rules regarding prepositions were originally based on Latin and that's why they don't translate well into a language like English, where there are so many exceptions to any rule.

Mike R
Apparently, about 400 years ago, prepositions were introduced into the English language to replace Latin inflections. Appearing at the beginning, middle or end of a word, inflections are grammatical categories that denote possession, gender and location, amongst others. The original Latin word is 'praeposito', literally 'place before'. It is perhaps where 'do not end a sentence with a preposition' comes from. In modern day English, however, the rule no longer applies.

Given this challenge is both educational and fun, many of us want to be in on it and very happy to be part of.

Chris Fielden
Thanks that for, Mike. Glad a part of it you want to be.

Cheryl-lya SB
Dear Chris and Ville, this has been such a treat, the stories here have been so entertaining! I'm really nervous to submit, given some of the comments, if not for fun or charity, why be scared?

Chris Fielden
Glad you enjoyed the challenge, Cheryl-lya. Thanks for submitting. No need to be scared - it's all part of the fun :-)

Kathryn B
Hi Chris, I have to say I really enjoyed the preposition challenge (in fact, I'm enjoying all of them!).

I saw Geoff's comments and found a link which does explain how some words have different types of preposition meaning etc.

It would have been hard to have used only preposition words whilst I did my own, but I did learn something new today and I have bookmarked the website, so for that, I'm very happy.

Link here: https://www.talkenglish.com/vocabulary/top-50-prepositions.aspx

Kathryn

Chris Fielden
Thanks for sharing this, Kathryn - very much appreciated.

And I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the writing challenges and learning from them - that's fab news :-)

Dave M
Hi Chris, just submitted to this challenge. I could have sworn my last line featured an exclamation mark. Please excise this and the quote marks. I have donned the hair-shirt of shame, and public self flaggelation will follow. Enjoyed doing this challenge.

Chris Fielden
Hi Dave, exorcised for you :-)

Jay B
This was a sticky one, up and over. Well, I've run out of challenges like. Maybe I'll think one up?

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Jay. There are more in the pipeline. And there are other run in the Facebook group, so you might want to join that?

Fiona M J
I have submitted a story, and all of its sentence-ends are real prepositions. If it goes up, will there be a link to it that I can share on social media? Preferably a link that people can click through to see my story?

Chris Fielden
Hi Fiona. Thank you for submitting. Your story has been published.

I'm afraid there aren't links to individual stories, so you'll have to share the page link. Most writers just share that and say what number their story is, so other people can find it easily. Sorry about that.

Michael H
How many instances of a prepositional passive with a transitive verb have appeared here?

Chris Fielden
I have no idea, Michael... When Prepositionally Challenged Volume 1 is published, maybe you can acquire a copy and tell me the answer :-)

Michael H
It is painful to read some of these. People thinking that "around" and "along", etc., are always prepositions... I've never understood why so many people find things like this hard to understand.

Chris Fielden
Hi Michael. A lot of people struggle with grammar, myself included. I'm not from an academic background and struggled to understand some of the 'rules' of writing when I started out. And I still struggle with grammar, prepositions included. It's like having a blind spot, or looking at the sun - that's the only way I can describe it. I understand the theory, but still don't find it easy to 'see'.

Please bear in mind that some of my website users are beginners, and English is not the first language of many of the writers who submit. We're not looking for literary perfection. The primary aim of these challenges is to help people learn. By making mistakes, and receiving constructive comments, like some of the ones above, writers can better understand grammar rules and other aspects of writing. We try and encourage people to have a go and learn more about writing and publishing in the process.

It amazes me how many different mistakes writers make. Many writers don't understand how to punctuate speech correctly, for example. Another common mistake is the overuse of clichés, detracting from the originality of voice (hence the cliché challenge exists). And many writers don't obey the rules when submitting stories. I always write back to people who submit to the challenges without following the submission criteria. Many editors wouldn't do that. They'd simply reject the story. So we all make mistakes and by highligting some of them and asking people to purposely make them, I hope we all learn from them. That's what the challenges are all about :-)

I hope that explains it, but you can find out more on the main writing challenges page should you wish.

Michael H
"The table had been eaten lunch at."

That's an example of what I mean. I learned this particular syntactic structure from Charles Dickens.

Chris Fielden
Awesome, thanks Michael :-)