"A damaged area of the skin where it has been rubbed against something hard and rough."

The antecedent of the where clause which "where" referring to is the "damaged area" and "it" referring to "the skin"

Am I right about that?


This sentence comes from a definition of the word "abrasion" in a dictionary. I do know what it means in a vague sense, just for reading, the job is done. what is not clear, and makes me wonder, is "where" and "it" refers to which word or phrase and if I can know this, I think I can master it completely.

This question might seem silly by native speaker, but it does worth answering for the reason to understand and generate sentence for a second language learner.

and @jacob, thanks for your explanation, it's very kind of you to spend you time to help silly learner like me. The transfer from "where it" to "that" makes the meaning clear. Can you show what both "where" and "it" refers to if you have time. Thank you.

  • 1
    You got it exactly. Dec 4 '14 at 12:30
  • The phrasing of that definition is awkward. A better version would be: "An area of the skin that is damaged from being rubbed against something hard and rough."
    – Adam Haun
    Dec 16 '14 at 4:21

In this case, because of the order of the words—and because you gave a sentence fragment, I see three things that can be it;

  1. The word skin
  2. The phrasal A damaged area of the skin
  3. The phrasal A damaged area

You can restrict the meaning(to clarify) by rewording;

". . . Where it . . ." can usually collapse to the better that :

A damaged area of the skin that has been rubbed against something hard and rough.

  • Can you explain to me what where referring to in this three different cases?
    – Rui
    Dec 7 '14 at 3:32
  • case 1: the one you already know
    – Jacob R.
    Dec 7 '14 at 4:14
  • Case 2: a damaged area of skin(already damaged) that rubs something hard and rough(more damage!)
    – Jacob R.
    Dec 7 '14 at 4:20
  • Case 3: A damaged area(a smaller area) of skin, you refer to just the damaged part, not all the skin
    – Jacob R.
    Dec 7 '14 at 4:27
  • to clarify: the second case could refer to a large skin area that rubbed but a smaller was damaged, so you include the undamaged: This flexibility in English is a strength and a weakness
    – Jacob R.
    Dec 7 '14 at 4:34

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