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It seems that "a space which is good to be in" is grammatically acceptable (with "in" at the end of the sentence). "Space" in this example refers to an intentionally designed living/working/public etc. space which is worth being in in terms of one's wellbeing. The "in" seems to be necessary because "a space which is good to be" feels incomplete.

What happens if "which is good" is omitted and only "a space to be in" is left? Specifically, what will happen to the meaning of the phrase?

  1. Will it make sense?
  2. As a native speaker, will this phrase imply positive quaities of a particular space (e.g. that one actually wants to be in there, for various reasons).
  3. Will it work in situations such as:

    • an exclamation during an informal everyday conversation emphasizing that one wants to stay longer in a particular living/working/public etc. space: "This is a space to be in."
    • "Let's create a space to be in" (the intended meaning would be "let's organize this space in a way that it will positively affect those who will be there").
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  • In North America, that is far more common than which in the construction you use. Only in the UK would which be normal as you have it. Aug 3, 2019 at 20:10

1 Answer 1

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For these choices:

A.) A space which is good to be in...

B.) A space to be in...

Example A

In example (A), it is much better to say: "a space that is good to be in", instead of which. (Further reading here on ELL)


Example B

1.) Will it make sense?

The way that you are using "space" (meaning a room, or an interior design) is very well understood in many contexts:

Yes: The interior designer created a wonderful space for us (to live in).

Yes: We wanted a nice space to enjoy (living) with our family.

Yes: Fill your space with furniture (from our store).

No: The astronaut wanted a good space. (Too ambiguous)

No: I wanted a space. (Too ambiguous)

2.) Is it positive?

Somewhat, but not really. An interior designer or architect might speak to another person in their field this way. Both people would understand that "be" means to "occupy and enjoy the space".

But for everyday people, the use of "to be" meaning "to live, or to live well" is very abstract. You could also use:

Yes: A space that is good to live in.

Yes: A space that is easy/enjoyable/restful to live in.

A space to live in...

A space to really live in...

A space that [we/you/a person] can really live in...

A space that [we/you/a person] can really enjoy living in...

3.) Will it work in conversation...?

"This is a space to be in."

How about:

"This is a space that people will enjoy being in".

And

"Let's create a space to be in"

How about:

"Let's create a space that people will enjoy being in / shopping in / dining in / resting in."

Let's create a space that people will feel comfortable in / feel relaxed in / feel awed by.

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