In English, it is frowned upon, but not actually wrong, to end a sentence with a preposition. For example:

I know where they came from. (informal, but extremely common)
I know from where they came. (formal)

What is the situation in other languages? Can you end a sentence with a preposition in French? In German? In Russian? In Chinese?

To all you guys out there who can speak more than one language, maybe you could help me out this time?

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In Japanese, one of the few strict word-order rules is that all sentences must be verb-final. The only things that can follow the verb or copula in a complete sentence are punctuation and mini-words called particles that express context.

I know there are other strict verb-final languages, so maybe they are excluded from this problem as well.
In Swedish, at least nowadays, there is no such rule.

"Jag vet var de kom från"

"I know where they came from"

But it is also possible to say:

"Jag vet varifrån de kom"

"I know whence they came"
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Thanks. I almost put "I know whence they came" in my original question but it seemed a bit too formal for what I wanted to know.

Any others?
Another interesting question is if it is accepted to put the preposition both in the beginning and the end of the sentence. In informal speech, this kind of construction is fairly common in Swedish.

"Varifrån sa du att de kom från?"

"From where did you say that they came from?"
It's about the same in German as it is in English as far as I can say.
In spoken language, people very often put the preposition in the end of a sentence - in standard German though, it wouldn't be actually wrong but should be avoided. For example:

Ich weiß, wo sie herkamen. (informal, but very common)
-> I know, where they came from.
Ich weiß, woher sie kommen. (formal)
-> I know, from where ("wherefrom") they came.

Wo gehst du hin? (informal, common)
-> Where are you going to?
Wohin gehst du? (formal)
-> To where ("whereto") are you going?

This is very very common as long as you're asking questions ´that begin with question words which include a preposition.

You can also find this "putting the preposition in the end" phenomen also in usual sentences - unless it's less common there:

Da mußte ich viel bezahlen für. (informal)
-> There I had to pay a lot for. (formal)
Dafür mußte ich viel bezahlen. (formal)
-> For that ("therefor") I had to pay a lot. (formal)

This sounds very clumsy, but some people use it that way though.
Some linguists think, that in especially these latter cases, it's a sort of a "hidden anglicism" that the preposition goes into the end of the sentence.

The rule, a preposition must not be used in the end of a sentence comes from Latin!
English, and especially German were/(are) deeply affected by Latin Grammar structures, which actually didn't allow to put a preposition there.

Now, that Latin doesn't have that much influence on Germanic languages anymore, these languages seem to go back to their origin rules sometimes, and in Germanic dialects it was quite common, also to put prepositions in the end of sentences.

According to this, it is actually totally wrong to say structures like "I know where they came from" are poor or informal English - they rather reflect the languages' origins: The Germanic dialects!!
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In Russian, you cannot put it at the end of the sentence.
An exception would be sentences like "I don't know where" but they are not what you mean, I think.

Hi, Rommie,

In a linguistics book I have at hand, I found the following partical list of the languages that allow and disallow a preposition to be left behind.

(1) Languages that allow a preposition to be left behind:
English, Frisian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic

(2) Languages that do not allow a preposition to be left behind:
Greek, German, Dutch, Yiddish, Russian, Polish, Czeck, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Persian, Catalan, Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew, Moroccan Arabic, Basque

In this connection, it is useful to note that even in languages that allow a preposition to be left behind, it is not always possible. For example, (3) is fine in English while (4) is not, if I remember correctly:

(3) In what way does Windows XP differ from Windows 2000?
(4) *What way does Windows XP differ from Windows 2000 in?

Do you agree with the judgment?

Wow, thank you, CuriousT - that's just what I was after. (Thanks also to everyone else who answered). I do agree with your judgement about sentence (4).

This forum is great, you know - you ask a question; it gets answered! Excellent.

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