Does this sentence need a relative pronoun (where) or not and it is a correct sentence in this form?

A post office is a place you can buy stamps.

  • 1
    No, words like where, which, that,... can (always?) be omitted in such contexts, leaving what I suppose is a "reduced relative clause".But you can't discard it in, say, The Post Office where you buy stamps is closed. Aug 20, 2023 at 12:12
  • 1
    No: it's fine as written. We can also have a wh relative, as in A post office is a place where you can buy stamps. It's a matter of personal choice.
    – BillJ
    Aug 20, 2023 at 12:14
  • 2
    You don't buy stamps post office, but at a post office, or from a post office. It would help to say "A post office is a place you can buy stamps from," ending with a preposition, or "where you can buy stamps," or "... a place to buy stamps." Aug 20, 2023 at 16:11
  • 3
    @YosefBaskin - it's perfectly fine for colloquial British [if nothing else]. Aug 20, 2023 at 17:21
  • 1
    @YosefBaskin When the antecedent is a very general noun such as "place", it's OK to omit the terminal preposition as well as the relative word: "A post office is a place (where) you can buy stamps". But in cases with a less general noun as antecedent the relative word is normally required: "There is a high-street shop nearby where you can buy stamps".
    – BillJ
    Aug 21, 2023 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


In American English, a post office is a place (where) you can buy stamps. You can omit where and it will still be idiomatic.

You can also say

The post office I normally buy stamps at was closed.

The boots I usually go hiking in were in my cousin's car.

but not:

*The post office I normally buy stamps was closed.

P.S. Consider the following noun phrases which have a relative clause:

a place that | which sells stamps

a place where stamps are sold

a place where I buy stamps

Which of the above allows the omission of that|which or where?

*a place sells stamps

a place stamps are sold

a place I buy stamps

If place is the subject of the verb in the clause, via its proxy, then the proxy cannot be omitted (in standard English, though the omission is permissible in some dialects).

Now consider:

The post office where I normally buy stamps...

The relative clause needs to refer to the noun it specifies, so you cannot omit where unless you refer to the noun in another manner, as the (understood) object of a preposition or as the understood direct object:

The post office I normally buy stamps at

The post office I normally buy stamps from

The post office I go to

*The post office I go no, because go is intransitive, taking no object

The post office I like


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .