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a. My friends in high school are all unemployed now.

b. My friends from high school are all unemployed now.

c. My friends when I was in high school are all unemployed now.

d. My friends from when I was in high school are all unemployed now.

Which are grammatically correct and meaningful?

The idea is simple: All those who were my friends when I was in high school are unemployed now. I am no longer in high school and neither are they.

To me (a) implies that I am still in high school and therefore doesn't work. I am not sure though.

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  • Related to ell.stackexchange.com/questions/274568/when-i-was-growing-up None is grammatically incorrect. As I said about your earlier question, the first version doesn't strictly make sense (if the friends are at school you wouldn't expect them to be employed), but common sense suggests what you really mean. (d), or possibly (c), best express your meaning. – Kate Bunting Feb 8 at 9:01
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a) is, as you say, substandard, because it suggests you (or at least, your friends) are all still at high school together, which (from context) you / they are very likely not.

b) is neat and compact, and says what you mean. The implied context is sufficient to make the reader understand what you mean.

c) does not fit right with me. I don't know whether it is strictly ungrammatical, but it sounds clumsy and feels like it is in desperate need of the preposition "from" as in d).

d) is completely grammatically correct, and is completely explicit in that it does not require the context to be understood. However, in my opinion it is inferior to b) from a purely stylistic point of view, because it is more wordy than it needs to be.

Summary: b) and d) are correct, but b) is better stylistically.

EDIT: It has just occurred to me that b) and d) actually mean very slightly different things.

b) suggests that you were all at high school together.

d) (because it is "when I was in high school") suggests that the friends may not actually be at high school themselves. The speaker may have had older friends who had left high school by that time.

Hence it is not possible to determine exactly what the speaker means without further contextual clues.

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    "a) is, as you say, substandard, because it suggests you are all still at high school together, which (from context) you are very likely not." Or, at least, that he has friends who are currently at high school, even though he might not be. – nick012000 Feb 8 at 13:55
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    @nick012000 Good call. Added some words to the answer to allow for that possibility – Prime Mover Feb 8 at 14:45
  • Thank you all so much. I can see that (C) is substandard. It seems to me that if used, it wouldn't mean the same as (D) though because (D) is about people who are STILL my friends. In (C) those friends might not be my friends any longer. So adding 'from' would change its meaning. It has to be recast. Am I correct? – azz Feb 8 at 23:41

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