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I'd like to know if there's any difference in meaning between 'where' and 'the place where' here.

  1. I'd like to talk about where I usually play basketball

  2. I'd like to talk about the place that I usually play basketball at.

I think both of them are perefectly the same meaning.

  1. I like to play basketball where there are a lot of people.

  2. I like to play basketball at a place where there are a lot of people.

I don't think there's a difference.

Am I right? Or are there any differences?

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The only context these might differ is in a more complex sentence, such as one in which "where" might not refer to a physical place. Otherwise, you are correct, these have the exact same meaning, and do in the sentences you have provided.

As a possible example of an exception:

I wrote an article about playing basketball where I discussed the potential health benefits of the sport.

Note this would have substantially different meaning than:

I wrote an article about playing basketball at a place where one could remain outside of direct sunlight.

In the first, where refers to the article written. In the second, where refers to the place one is playing the sport. In the second case, at a place helps clarify the meaning.

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