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I am going to make up a sentence and then revise it.

(1) Mary and I are going to meet John in the school where Mike used to work.

If I remove "where" from the sentence, do I need to add "in" at the end of the sentence as shown below?

(2) Mary and I are going to meet John in the school Mike used to work in.

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  • @JamesK "do I need to add "in" at the end of the sentence as shown below" is the question.
    – Laurel
    Jul 21 '17 at 20:17
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The second sentence has a relative clause without a relative pronoun. That's allowed, but for clarity the second sentence is equivalent to

Mary and I are going to meet John in the school that Mike used to work in.

If you omit "in" you get "the school that Mike used to work". This implies that "Mike worked the school.", which is grammatically correct nonsense. So you would need "in" (or "at") for the second sentence to have a meaning similar to the first.

The first sentence is much clearer. It has a clear relative pronoun to indicate location and is more elegant. The second sentence, without a zero pronoun, would make me stop to work out how to parse it. It's a poor piece of writing.

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  • "...for the second sentence to mean similar to the first." Is that the intransitive mean? I didn't know we've had one in English since the 15th century! Jul 22 '17 at 2:26
  • Marry! Thou doth write truly.
    – James K
    Jul 22 '17 at 6:36
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Yes, the "in" is required, but there are two applicable style "rules" to consider:

  1. Try not to repeat the same preposition in a sentence, or at least, not twice in a row. You can vary the prepositions you choose, as long as it fits the meaning:

    • We are going to meet John in the school Mike used to work at.

  2. Try not to end a sentence with a preposition. This is debatable, because some of the alternatives sound worse:

    • We can visit the house I grew up in. (ok)
      We can visit the house in which I grew up. (worse)
      We can visit the house where I grew up. (better)

Since style is a matter of opinion, it varies from person to person and place to place. It's important to recognize good style when you see it, but don't worry to much about writing good style, at least until you become very comfortable expressing yourself in English.

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  • To me, "We can visit the house in which I grew up" is far from "worse". In fact, it's the way I would naturally express the thought. My kids would, too! What is it about this common and correct phrasing that sounds worse to you? Let's not start proposing that any structure that might have been approved by our third grade teachers is somehow less desirable merely by dint of that approval. (Although Miss Kuske, bless her, would have insisted upon "...house in which I was raised" to avoid the terminal "up".) Jul 21 '17 at 23:49
  • @P.E.Dant as I said it's personal opinion. If you like it, more power to you, but to misquote Winston Churchill, "That is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put."
    – Andrew
    Jul 22 '17 at 0:18
  • The point of my comment was not that the terminal preposition makes any difference. My point is that telling a student of English that it's worse to use the second option is bad advice. It 's not presented there as an opinion. If you're going to say that it's "worse" to say "the house in which I grew up" than "the house I grew up in", you might at least provide your reasoning. It's certainly not clear to me. Also, you say "try not to end a sentence with a preposition" and then provide "alternatives" ... all of which end in a preposition! Jul 22 '17 at 2:11

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