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In formal writing, it'd be better to write:

the house in which I was born

than

the house where I was born

but does the same 'rule' apply when using a country as a locality? E.g.

In August I go to France, in which there were elections in April.

or should it be:

In August I go to France, where there were elections in April.

  • What does which refer to in you example about France? You can go to the country in which there were elections, but unless I really missed a big event, there is only one France, where there were elections. Formal or not, France, in which ain't flying. – oerkelens Jun 4 '17 at 18:37
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    Who told you the house in which is better than the house where in 'formal' writing? This is quite untrue. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 4 '17 at 23:03
  • "In which" is probably only better if "where" isn't possible. For example, "That's the box in which my cat arrived." (Of course, in natural speech you would say: "That's the box my cat arrived in.") – Luke Sawczak Sep 18 '17 at 1:47
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(Edited based on a comment. I should have read the question more carefully.)

I don't know that I'd say "in which" would be better in any case. I would say (1) the two mean the same and (2) "where" is less formal-sounding than "in which," though by no means is it overly informal.

And in the country case, as the commenter says, "in which" sounds a bit odd. Taking a few example sentences:

  • I am in the house in which I was born
  • I am in the town in which there was a hurricane
  • I am in the country in which there were elections in April
  • I am in the solar system in which the earth resides

It seems like, the larger the "place", the odder "in which" sounds. Honestly, I don't like "in which" in any of these cases personally. It sounds overly formal to me.

  • I don't think it sounds that odd with the country, but it does sound odd with France. Just like the city in which they built a church is fine, but not London in which they built a church. – oerkelens Jun 4 '17 at 20:27

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