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I have read the related questions answered here but still don't know how I can convince a learner not to use where in the second gap. They simply believe whenever a word refers to a place (no matter whether it is an entity or not), they have to use this relative adverb.

I have to say that my favourite place in the world is the village where I was born. I've travelled all over the world but it's still the place which I love most.

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    The difference is that in integrated relative clauses "where" typically functions as an adjunct of place in the relative clause, whereas "which" typically functions as subject, object or complement of a preposition.
    – BillJ
    Apr 25, 2021 at 15:05
  • Can you rephrase that for a learner and make an answer out of it?
    – James K
    Apr 25, 2021 at 15:18
  • @James: But the whole point is teaching relative clauses and they need to know how relative pronouns/adverbs work properly.
    – M.N
    Apr 25, 2021 at 15:20
  • Even so, it is an answer, not a comment. And it should be written as such. I think @Bill can write a good answer, in such a way that both the M.N and other learners can understand. Personally I'd not use any conjunction "... the place I love most". For general language learning ideas there is also Language Learning
    – James K
    Apr 25, 2021 at 15:28
  • @James: The lines I've written here are part of an exercise in which learners have to complete the gaps using only "which or where".
    – M.N
    Apr 25, 2021 at 15:32

2 Answers 2

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I have to say that my favourite place in the world is the village where I was born. I've travelled all over the world but it's still the place which I love most.

The difference is that in integrated (defining) relative clauses, "where" functions as an adjunct of place in the relative clause, whereas "which" typically functions as subject, object or complement of a preposition.

Note that in modern grammar, "where" is analysed as a preposition, not an adverb, where it can be paraphrased as "in/at/on/from" some place".

"I was born in some village" [adjunct of place.]

"I love the place most" [object]

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    "I love the place most" is not grammatical in English.
    – Lambie
    Apr 27, 2021 at 15:25
  • @Lambie Wrong. It's meant to be the core of the relative clause which is "which I love __ most" where gap = "the place"
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 16:35
  • @Lambie Read my last comment! Obviously relative clauses can't stand alone. We show the relative clause to demonstrate the function of the relatavised element in the relative clause, which here is object of "love". See?
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 16:43
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    You can post: "I love the place most" but it is meaningless, even to illustrate something. That is not the way to illustrate something.
    – Lambie
    Apr 27, 2021 at 16:49
  • @Lambie It's the normal way of demonstrating syntactically the function of the R element in the relative clause. Again the relative clause is "which I love __ most", where R is represented by gap. Take that on board, as I don't intend to repeat it.
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 16:52
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This is similar to BillJ’s answer with a more old-fashioned vocabulary. I would classify “where” here as a relative pronoun (not a relative adverb and not as a preposition) just as “which” is a relative pronoun.

But I agree with BillJ that when used in modern English as a relative pronoun it usually incorporates a preposition of place or is the object of a preposition.

the village where I was born

means

the village in which I was born

For another example

the village where I am going

means

the village to which I am going

On the other hand,

the place which I love

does not require any preposition, implicit or explicit and so precludes the use of “where.”

This is my answer, and, if I have mischaracterized BillJ’s answer, I apologize.

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