My question will be about "in which". Let's think that the following sentence is our original sentence.

That's the book of the God which we believe in.

I think there is no problem there.

We can transform it into the following structure.

That's the book of the God in which we believe.

and I still believe that there is no problem. They are totally the same meaning.

So, my opinion is very unusual and may be funny but I am just curious.

We know that "in/at/on which" can be changed to "where". They give the same meaning. So in this case, can we change "in which" to "where" ?

That's the book of the God where we believe.

I think that it seems funny but I can't see any technical problem. It can be theoretically correct even if it seems really weird / unusual.

What do you think? Thanks.

  • "That's the book of the god we believe in."
    – Robusto
    Jun 20, 2018 at 3:52
  • No you cannot change it to "where". Jun 20, 2018 at 4:05
  • 2
    'We know that "in/at/on which" can be changed to "where".' This is true, but only if the phrase relates to a location, e.g. 'This is the place at which we worship.' However, in the following sentence you would need to replace 'at which' with 'when', 'This is the time at which we arranged to meet.' Also, if you think of God in an anthropomorphic way, then 'who' or 'whom' may be a better word choice than 'which'.
    – James
    Jun 20, 2018 at 5:38

2 Answers 2


No, you can't change it to where, because in your example the "in" belongs to "believe" as the phrasal verb "believe in".

So, it is not "in which", as you thought, and thus doesn't have the same meaning as "where".

  • This assumption is not correct because "believe in" is not a phrasal verb, but it is a prepositional verb. They are different and it is very important to figure out that difference in this case. If "in" belonged to "believe", we couldn't say: "The god in which/whom we believe" but we can say it because they can be separated.
    – Jawel7
    Jun 20, 2018 at 5:59
  • 1
    According to Merriam-Webster (same link as in my answer) it is a phrasal verb. Also according to this explanation of phrasal and prepositional verbs your explanation is switched, because "Phrasal Verbs can be separated", while "Prepositional Verbs must not be separated". And if you still disagree, then please provide some references to proof your opinion.
    – Geshode
    Jun 20, 2018 at 6:17
  • To prove your opinion. Jun 20, 2018 at 6:45
  • @MichaelHarvey Thanks for pointing it out, I didn't notice my typo.
    – Geshode
    Jun 20, 2018 at 6:48
  • You can use proof as a verb in certain situations. Jun 20, 2018 at 7:36

We can only use where as a relative when the reference is back to something which is literally a location, or to something that can be understood as a situation or circumstance.

This is the kind of weather in which you should stay indoors.

This is the kind of weather where you should stay indoors.

This is the snowboard on which he won gold at the Olympics.

This is the snowboard where he won gold at the Olympics. NO

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