Hey, where are you at?

The phrase “Where are you at?” is popping up everywhere. It’s on TV. It’s in ads. It’s all over the Web. And, of course, we’re hearing it when we eat at a restaurant, wait for the bus, or walk down the street. Our language shifts and absorbs new ways to say things. It’s natural, if a bit unnerving.

 
Did you ever wonder why grammarians, English teachers, and wordsmiths cringe every time they hear, “Where are you at?”

 

So, what's all the fuss about?

It could be the preposition at the end of the sentence. But, we’ve been comfortable with that for decades. Because, honestly, fixing the grammar often leads to awkward sentences like “I love the couch on which you’re sitting.”

 
The correct question is “Where are you?” In English, we only need to include the preposition “at” when there is a place after it. So, “Are you at the mall?” correctly uses at.
 
The question word “where” covers what we all need to know. And brevity is not only the soul of wit, it is also the heart of conciseness. Why add words that you don’t need? As my ninth grade English teacher used to say, “If in doubt, leave it out!”

 

What if I still want to use this phrase?

How you express yourself is entirely up to you. If all your friends use the phrase and you don’t want to sound stuffy, then go for it. But you might want to drop it when you’re at work. Just a suggestion. :)

 
Your turn: Do you use this phrase? How do you feel about it?

 

 

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Comments  

 
0 #3 Trelawney Goodell 2011-08-12 23:20
@William Thanks for sharing insight from your business. It's true that proper grammar in business is more important than in personal life. :)

@Thatwordsmith I know this is one of your pet peeves. Thank you for commenting! :)
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0 #2 William Fulton 2011-08-11 12:03
In my work, I deal with recorded prompts for phone trees and things like that. I was listening to a recording from someone recently and it struck me that the person sounded a little bit country. I don't mean they had a twang to their voice, I mean they sounded like a hick. This is not necessarily a bad thing but for a mass audience it probably isn't a good idea.

The point of my story is that when considering a mass audience it is probably a good idea to follow good grammar rules. When talking with your buddies, let your hick flag fly. :)
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0 #1 Thatwordsmith 2011-08-11 11:52
Thank you! Asking where someone is at is akin to finding the tIme by asking, "What time is it when?" or "Who is he person?" It's redundant and repetitive. Right? Right. Now, where's that send button (at)?
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