Consider the following sentences:

  1. This is the house that Jack built.
  2. This is the place where he was assaulted.

In the above sentences, why is "that" in 1 a relative pronoun and "where" in 2 a relative adverb. Aren't they essentially doing the same thing, i.e., referring to the antecedents "house" and "place", respectively.


[1] This is the house [that Jack built].

[2] This is the place [where he was assaulted].

The relativised elements refer to house/place, but they have different functions in the relative clause .

In [1] the relative clause simply identifies the house as being the one that Jack built. The relativised element is functioning as object of "built", cf. "This is house x; Jack built x".

In [2] the relative clause identifies the place as being the one where he was assaulted. By contrast, the relativised element here is functioning as an adjunct of place, cf. "This is place x; he was assaulted in/at x".

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