At first glance, calcite might be confused with quartz where both are clear, colorless, and "glassy".

I'm not familiar with the use of "where" here, which usually refers to a place. In this usage, does it refer to the situation at which calcite is confused with quartz? Is there any other(better?) ways to express the idea?

  • That sentence confuses me. I think it's supposed to mean, "... with quartz because both can be clear...", in which case, "where" is incorrect. If it's correct, then it means something like, "... with quartz, in situations where both are clear...", but would mean they were found side-by-side, in nature, which I don't believe is the intent here
    – gotube
    Aug 7, 2022 at 3:54
  • @gotube I googled it and got several hits but none of them is from a reliable source. Now I can conclude that this is a bad sentence.
    – ForOU
    Aug 7, 2022 at 5:08
  • "Where" has been bleached of its locative meaning and here probably means something like "because" or "since".
    – BillJ
    Aug 7, 2022 at 5:57

1 Answer 1


Many textbooks insist that "where" be used only to indicate a place, but in practice English speakers use it in a variety of contexts. I searched Google News and quickly found this example:

Clever KBRD is a breakout where you bounce balls with your keyboard skills

In this headline, "breakout" represents a type of computer game, not a place.

In your sentence, it is hard to tell whether the author means that "both are clear, colorless, and 'glassy'" in a specific situation or in general. If the latter is true, then "whereas" would probably have been a better word to use (and might have been what the author intended). M-W defines "whereas" thus:

in view of the fact that : SINCE

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