This is one of the entries from the Longman Dictionary for the noun "course"

5 DEVELOPMENT [singular] the usual or natural way that something changes, develops, or is done.

It seemed incorrect to me. Shouldn't it be "the usual or natural way in which something changes..."

The only definition I could find for "that" that could fit here is:


a. In, on, by, or with which: each summer that the concerts are performed.(source:American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

With this, I could transform the sentence into "the usual or natural way with which something changes, develops, or is done" but I don't know if it is the correct usage.

  • Why try and second guess that kind of reputable dictionary?? The way with which something changes means something else. That means it is accompanied by something else.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 15:22
  • 1
    @Lambie Users on this site have found errors in reputable dictionaries before, including Cambridge and Merriam-Webster. I reported them and had both confirmed as errors.
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


That definition from American Heritage means "that" can have any of the four different meanings of:

  • in which
  • on which
  • by which
  • with which

It does not mean that all four of those phrases mean the same and are interchangeable (they don't and aren't), so no, you cannot transform the sentence in the way you did.

In the case of the original example in Longman, "that" has the meaning of "in which", and is correct and natural.

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