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Can "when and where" be used as relative pronouns? Options
York.Wu
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 1:15:34 AM

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Joined: 3/7/2019
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Location: Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
I suppose most members have read COMPLETE ENGLISH GRAMMAR RULES in this website.

In "Relative Pronouns," the author writes, "When and where are also used as relative pronouns, especially in less formal writing and conversation. They are always used in restrictive relative clauses."
There is an example, “The town where she lives is only an hour away.”

However, in "Relative Adverbs," the author mentions "when and where" are relative adverbs. There is another example, "The house where I was born is a very special place.”

The two examples are grammatically same in my eyes. I will really appreciate it if anybody can tell me when "where" is a relative pronoun and when it is a relative adverb.



Audiendus
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 9:22:31 AM
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Location: London, England, United Kingdom
I have looked at those rules under 'Relative Pronouns' and 'Relative Adverbs', and I find them very confusing. I can see no clear distinction between the given examples of 'when' and 'where' as (a) 'pronouns' and (b) 'adverbs'. I think it can be argued either that they are pronouns or that they are adverbs (see below), but one needs to be consistent.

The place where I live.
"Where" can be regarded as standing for "in which", so it can be called a pronoun.
Alternatively, "where" can be regarded as standing for "there", so it can be called an adverb.

Can anyone else help?
James Morris
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 11:15:22 AM
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Location: Washington, D. C., Washington, D.C., United States
It is confusing. The only thing I can figure after reviewing the definitions is that whoever determined the difference did so arbitrarily. Is it modifying the noun in the first part of the sentence or the verb in the last part of the sentence?
FounDit
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 11:54:27 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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I also read the sections mentioned, but can't find any reason to think of "where" as an adverb. It seems to me to be a pronoun in each case.

In the relative adverb section we have these examples:

“The house where I was born is a very special place.” If you were born in a house, then that is a location. Where would relate to the house, not being born. It doesn't make sense to me.

“Paris, where I want to live, is the most beautiful city in the world.” The same applies here, I think. You want to live in a place, not a where. So the "where" is a pronoun for the place. If you make it a question, "Where to you want to live?", you would say the place name, Paris, not "live".

“I’ll always remember the river where we learned to swim.” And once again, you learned to swim in a river, a place, not a "learned".



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