Is it correct to say, "Please, tell me the picture where you can see Big Ben?". There's an exercise in which you have to look at the pictures and say the letter of the picture to your classmate. what about "...tell me the letter of the picture in which...?"

  • Welcome to ELL Stack Exchange! That's a pretty good first question. If you stick around you'll get lots of well-intentioned advice in comments. Here's some: I think it helps to put the context first. So I would describe the exercise, then ask about phrasings. As is, I wanted to downvote after reading the first sentence, then after reading the context had to go back and read the first sentence again to remind myself what the question was, and will now attempt an answer. – DCShannon May 20 '15 at 17:51
  • Tell me the (letter of the) picture in which one/you can see Big Ben is correct. – user6951 May 20 '15 at 18:24
  • In which picture is Big Ben visible? In which picture can you see Big Ben? Please tell me which picture has Big Ben in it. – Jim May 20 '15 at 18:44

That's a perfectly grammatical and understandable sentence. It's really imperative, rather than interrogative, so I would use a period, not a question mark. That being said, I see question marks on such sentences often enough that I'm not sure it's 'wrong'.

I think your second suggested phrasing is better, as it uses 'in which', rather than 'where', and Big Ben is in the picture:

Please, tell me the letter of the picture in which you can see Big Ben.

I wouldn't use either, though. It's more common to refer to Big Ben as being 'in' the picture, rather than referring to 'seeing' Big Ben in the picture.

I would probably say:

Which picture is Big Ben in?

Or, because the pictures are probably right there for me to point at and I would be speaking so I would use contractions:

Which one's Big Ben in?

Other Constructions

There are any number of ways to phrase this, and multiple other prepositions or verbs that could be used. You could ask which picture is "of Big Ben", if Big Ben is the main thing in the picture. You could ask which picture "shows Big Ben". You could even ask which picture "has Big Ben". You could ask about the letters, or ask about the picture and assume the other person can figure out to respond with a letter.

At the extreme end, you could even just point at the pictures and say "Big Ben?".

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    Or Tell me which picture shows Big Ben, for example. But the range of "valid" usages for tell [someone] [something] are at best ill-defined and somewhat fluid. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 20 '15 at 18:00
  • Thank you for your answer. I'm wondering about the use of the structure "tell+someone+something" in this case. i've googled this phrase and found some examples (just few of them, actually) like "Could anyone tell me the software...?", "Tell me the place in the picture" in line with the most common "tell me the price", "tell me your name". Are all of these examples considered grammatical now? – enia May 20 '15 at 18:27
  • @enia So, in your question, are you asking about how to ask someone which picture Big Ben is in, or are you trying to ask about the structure "tell [someone] [something]"? I definitely thought the former. I see nothing wrong with any of those examples. Does something seem wrong about them? – DCShannon May 20 '15 at 18:52
  • @DCShannon I am interested in both aspects (correct ways to ask about the picture and in using "tell" for this purpose because I had serious doubts whether it was correct), so your explanation was really of big help for me. Having read the discussion I understand that "tell" can be normally used not only with the meaning of "narrate", but also "identify something". – enia May 21 '15 at 17:57

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