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Should it be:

Campus is a place in which children study.

or

Campus is a place where children study on.

Which one is correct, or are they both incorrect? Why?

Is there a better version?

  • 2
    I think it should be: Campus is a place where children study. or Campus is a place where children go to study I am not 100% sure, but the first option seems right to me. – Usernew Oct 21 '15 at 7:23
  • I think your versions are both right. – dennylv Oct 21 '15 at 7:32
  • @dennylv The second example is wrong ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 21 '15 at 10:14
  • @Araucaria OP's right? or mine, too? – Usernew Oct 21 '15 at 10:19
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    @Usernew Yours are both ok, but you need the word a at the beginning? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 21 '15 at 10:47
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Locative Adjuncts

  • She plays football in the park

In the sentence above, the Subject is she and the Object is football. What is that bit at the end, in the park? It is a Locative Adjunct (sometimes called a "Locative Adverbial"). It gives us extra information about where something happens.

Usually, Locative Adjuncts are preposition phrases. In the sentence above the Locative Adjunct is a preposition phrase in the park. The Head of the preposition phrase is the preposition in. This preposition has a noun phrase as a Complement. The noun phrase inside the preposition phrase is the park.

The relative words which and where

We use the word where to represent Locative Adjuncts. We use the word which to replace Subjects, Objects or Complements of Prepositions. Adjuncts are usually preposition phrases. Subjects, Objects and preposition Complements are usually noun phrases.

Relative clauses

We often use relative clauses to modify nouns. So we have a main noun, the antecedent, and then we have a relative clause which comes afterwards:

  • This is the park [where Jane plays football].
  • This is the park [which Jane plays football in].

In the sentences above the antecedent is the noun phrase the park, the relative clause is the bit in brackets, [ ]. Let's look at the relative clauses.

These clauses have a wh- word at the beginning. They also have a gap in them:

  • where Jane plays football ______
  • which Jane plays football in _____

We understand that the wh- word represents that gap at the end. We can model the grammar like this:

  • where Jane plays football [ in the park ]
  • which Jane plays football in [ the park ]

If we look at the sentences above, we can see that where replaces the whole Locative Adjunct. It replaces the whole preposition phrase, the preposition and the noun.

In contrast, which only replaces the Complement of the preposition. It doesn't replace the preposition itself. We need to keep the preposition in the clause.

We have two choices about what we can do with this preposition that isn't replaced. We can either leave it where it is, or we can move it to the beginning of the relative clause. If we do this it appears in front of it's complement, the word which:

  • which she plays football in.
  • in which she plays football.

The second sounds quite formal. The first can be used in both formal and informal speech and writing.

The Original Poster's examples

  1. A campus is a place in which children study.

  2. *A campus is a place where children study in. (ungrammatical)

Campus is a countable noun, so we need to use the word a with it. Also, we do indeed study on a campus. However, the antecedent noun, the noun which is being modified, is place, not campus. We study on a campus, but in a place, so we definitely need the preposition in.

In example (1), the writer has kept the preposition in. They have only replaced the Complement of the preposition, a noun phrase. Because of this, they have used the word which. This is correct. We use which to replace noun phrases like this.

In example (2), the writer has used where. This means they should replace the whole Locative Adjunct. They need to delete the whole preposition phrase, not just the noun. So we don't want to see the preposition in here. The sentence should look like this:

  • A campus is a place where children study.

We can understand the sentence like this:

  • A campus is a place where children study [ in the place ].

The writer has three options then. They can use any of the following:

  • A campus is a place where children study. [preposition phrase deleted]
  • A campus is a place which children study in. [preposition left at end]
  • A campus is a place in which children study. [preposition moved to front]

Hope this is helpful!

Note:

In case the Original Poster is going to use this sentence, we usually think about a campus as being part of a college or university, we don't use this word very much for schools where there are younger children. We might want to swap the word children for students or young people perhaps.

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  • 1
    Very well summed up. +1 for a thorough explanation. :) – Usernew Oct 21 '15 at 13:35
  • Hi, thank you for the very helpful answer.I'd like to ask if the sentence "Campus is a place children study at (or in)", as in said the answer below, is correct and implies the same meaning as the sentences you mentioned in your answer :) – Mrt Apr 3 '16 at 21:22
  • @Mrt Thank you. "A campus is a place children study in" is grammatical. The reason is, it is reduced form of "A campus is a place which children study in". When which is not the subject of the restrictive relative clause, we can delete it. [However, * "A campus is a place where children study in" is, of course, ungrammatical, because where must replace the whole locative adjunct]. Does that answer your query? :-) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 4 '16 at 7:24
  • @Araucaria Thank you. I think I got it but I am still confused about a related sentences which is " This is the place/house I live (in)" ..I think I can say "This is the house where I live / this is the house in which I live / this is the house which I live in " ..is it ok to say " This is the house I live" because I think I saw this sentence before.. – Mrt Apr 5 '16 at 22:15
  • @Mrt You can't say "This is the house I live". That's definitely not grammatical. (When the word place is an antecedent however, things get very complicated. You can say: "This is the place we met last time" for example. But the word place is unique in English. It has completely different rules. Maybe you heard a place sentence?) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 5 '16 at 22:22
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Campus is a place in which children study.

means the same thing as

Campus is a place where children study.

Now, if you add 'on' at the end, you're changing the meaning:

Campus is a place, where children study on.

This is the same form as going on versus going - it means insistent, ceaseless continuation. It's not that children dedicate the regular amount of time to studying, but that they keep studying way longer than they should - e.g. failing to pass to the next class, and repeating their classes.

I believe you might have confused it with the following:

Campus is a place children study at (or in).

Moving the preposition to the end of the sentence is correct, though discouraged practice. In this case this is equivalent to the "at which", or "in which" construction.

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