1

You will find taxis waiting at the bus station __ you can hire to reach your host family

Two options:

  1. which
  2. where

Which one is correct? I think (2), but the answer is (1): why is that?

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  • "where you can hire to reach your host family" is not well-formed. – Jim Jun 5 '13 at 7:43
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    There is also the option of Zero. taxis waiting at the bus station ∅ you can hire to reach your host family is also correct. – John Lawler Jun 5 '13 at 14:23
4

You can hire requires an object, beause you can hire to reach your family is not grammatical without one; hire is not an intransitive verb.

The sentence already mentions the taxis at the bus station, so you need to refer to those. The way to do that is with which.

which pronoun & determiner
used referring to something previously mentioned when introducing a clause giving further information [ODO]


You will find taxis waiting at the bus station which you can hire to reach your family.

Where is principally concerned with place (either literal or metaphorical). If you used where, it would refer to the bus station and you would still have the above ungrammatical fragment. You would need to add an object explicitly, such as them:

You will find taxis waiting at the bus station where you can hire them to reach your host family.

That sentence is awkward. You don’t need to use where to specify the location because it’s understood from the context. The sentence can only apply to the bus station. It’s also not an option for you because you can’t add the word them.

Note that which could refer to either of the preceding nouns: the taxis or the bus station. Context makes clear which is meant. You can’t hire a bus station to reach your family, but a sentence like

You will find taxis waiting at the bus station which is in the centre of town.

obviously refers to the bus station (because of the singular verb is which can’t refer to the plural taxis). Many would add a comma before which in that second sentence, as that also makes that meaning clear.

  • Yes - You will find taxis waiting beside the rickshaws which you can hire to reach your host family is probably better re-ordered to You will find taxis, which you can hire to reach your host family, waiting beside the rickshaws. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 5 '13 at 8:46
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    @Edwin not quite. Why is the family waiting beside the rickshaws? Beside the rickshaws you will find taxis which you can hire to reach your host family is the least ambiguous version. – mcalex Jun 5 '13 at 9:47
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    Waiting at the bus station comes from which are waiting at the bus station, a relative clause reduced by Whiz-deletion. You can hire to reach your host family comes from which you can hire in order to reach your host family, also a relative clause, reduced this time by deletion of the relative pronoun. Both clauses modify taxis, so putting them together this way is awkward, but they can be ordered either way, and there's no relative pronoun necessary. – John Lawler Jun 5 '13 at 14:27
  • We could make where okay with the addition of a single word: You will find taxis waiting at the bus station, where you can hire one to reach your host family. In that case, where is correct, but which would be incorrect. As you say, "you can hire" requires an object. Nice explanation. – J.R. Jun 8 '13 at 10:29

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