"May 19, 2004, was the day______________"

  1. (a) which I was born on
  2. (b) that I was born on"

Are (a) (b) grammatically correct and accepted by native speakers? I know that I can use " on which I was born" or "when I was born" but do they all have the same meanings?

  • 3
    Yes, all of them are grammatical and acceptable. The shorter versions are more colloquial, since the relative markers are completely predictable with a temporal clause, and they're normally left out in ordinary talk. They are deleted grammatically by syntactic rule (aka "transformation", "alternation", etc.), which only change one syntactic pattern to a different one, and never change meaning. Nov 21, 2022 at 16:49
  • 7
    I think most people would simply say "the day I was born". Nov 21, 2022 at 17:23

2 Answers 2

  • It is true that both the day "that I was born on." and the day "which I was born on." would be equally understood by native English speakers, particularly in casual speech.
  • It is also true that both phrases are equally grammatically incorrect.

First, "that," "which," and "on" are all prepositions. You only need to use one. As your fill-in-the-blank sentence is worded, the correct wording is the day "that I was born." (As was ultimately recommended by https://ell.stackexchange.com/users/165060/edb.) See the distinction between "that" and "which" as prepositions: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/which-vs-that

Second, if you want to use the preposition "on," and you can rewrite the sentence, write "I was born on May 19, 2004."

Finally, try to place any preposition directly before its object. Placing "on" at the end of the sentence separates it from the date, which puts it in the category of Preposition Stranding. See Scribbr for more on preposition position. https://www.scribbr.com/parts-of-speech/ending-a-sentence-with-a-preposition/#:~:text=Yes%2C%20it's%20fine%20to%20end,results%20in%20very%20unnatural%20phrasings.

  • As an example of what @kbrungraber is describing in the last paragraph, if you want to use the preposition 'on' and be completely correct, you could say, '...the day on which I was born.'. If you want to learn English well, I'd suggest you read Charles Dickens.
    – dwilli
    Sep 2 at 6:35
  • According to @dwilli, "If you want to learn English well, I'd suggest you read Charles Dickens." This is not necessarily the case. Charles Dickens was paid by the word. His stories often first appeared first in parts, published in periodicals. This meant that each published part had to fill a certain number of column inches, a requirement that would encourage any writer to unnecessarily pad their prose. Sep 7 at 17:25

Yes they are correct. When you say the day I was born on it is pretty possible to change the position of on, either before the clause or after, no change in the meaning. As your former sentence includes word day you can use Which as you can count the day, That as it is alternative to which in some time, When because it is like time clause marker and you can use it with year/month/week/day/.... No change in the main meaning of sentence.

When it comes to not using preposition on, I think, if you talk about your day of birth, it is clear and no need to use on. But it is informal, I think

  • 2
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    Dec 19, 2022 at 19:15

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