Grammar class: Confusion about when to use “where” vs “which” (exercise handout)

Shanghai

Shanghai

A tutor recently told me about her student who was confused by “where” and “which.”  She was wondering how I would approach this student’s question.   He had two sentences:

Shanghai is a city which has a population of eight million people.
Shanghai is a city where eight million people live.

I have found that the most common mistake that ESL students make with “where” is when they are missing a subject:

                                                            V
Incorrect: This is a place where buy good fish.

                                                       S     V
Correct: This is a place where we buy good fish.
I tell the students that we need to have a subject and verb after the word “where.”  That usually is all I need to say.

At the same time, the word “which” can be the subject of the dependent clause.

If necessary, to clarify further, I’ll break the sentences into two sentences and then show how they are combined into one:

Shangahi is a city.  It has a population of eight million people.
Shanghai is a city which has a population of eight million people.

Shangahi is a city.  Eight million people live there.
Shanghai is a city where eight million people live.

As a follow up, I have students complete this attached exercise.

which-where-exercise-pdf

David Kehe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s