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Sometimes I feel confused whether to use what or wher when I talk about a place. For example:

What is your destination?

or

Where is your destination?

Which is correct and why?

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If you want to know the name of the destination, for example "London", you ask

What is your destination?

If you want to know the geographical location of the destination, (south-east England), you would ask

Where is your destination?

You might also use where to ask for directions to a place:

Excuse me, where is the Post Office?

When asking about somebody's destination, you probably just want the name, in which case what is the right question-word.

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Interesting question.

I would almost certainly say:

What is your destination?

but I might also ask:

Where are you traveling to?
Where are you vacationing?

I'm not sure why the word "destination" almost always gets used with "What is.." instead of "Where is..." – at least, that's what the Ngram shows.

When I looked up "What is your destination" on Google, I got millions of hits. I also looked up "Where is your destination", and I was initially surprised to find thousands of hits, but several of them ended up linking to questions like this one. (Others linked to blogs that are not so carefully edited or proofread.)

One such question was found in a discussion forum, where one user explained it like this:

The word "destination" implies where, which means that you don't need to repeat that.

I don't know if that's the real underlying reason, but it's as good an explanation as anything that I can think of.


It's also worth noting that "destination" might not really be asking about a place – at least, not a physical place. That phrase is often used to talk about a "place in life." For example, if we were at the airport, and I asked you, "What's your destination?" you'd probably give me an answer like "Cairo" or "Egypt". However, if I was a motivational speaker at a conference, and I asked, "What is your destination?" I would probably be referring to something more like the destiny of you or your company. That's how Aaron and Larcher use the phrase in their book, where they write:

By recording your goals, you create your own personal roadmap. What is your destination? Do you know which road you will take? How long will it take to get there? What will you do if an obstacle comes along the way?
SOURCE: Double Your Income Doing What You Love by Raymond Aaron and Sue Lacher, 2011; emphasis added.

Either way, though, whether you are talking about travelling, or meeting your personal goals, "What is your destination?" seems to be the more idiomatic way to pose the question.

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