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    #1

    Usage of place

    1) London - the place to be.
    2) London - the place to be in.


    Can someone please tell me which of the above two sounds natural? I have heard the first one being used quite a few times. Why is in generally omitted here?

    3) London - the city to be.
    4) London - the city to be in.


    Also, please tell me which of the above two sounds natural?

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    #2

    Re: Usage of place

    1) London is the place to be.
    2) London is the place to be in.

    3) London is the city to be.
    4) London is the city to be in.


    Of the first pair, #1 is by far the more natural. (#2, although theoretically grammatical, is only marginally acceptable.)
    Of the second pair, only #4 is fully acceptable. Again, despite theoretical possibility, most speakers would reject #3.

    As to the reason...

    It revolves essentially around the kind of noun that can stand as the antecedent of the relative adverb 'that', to determine which we have to reconstruct canonical (putative original) forms such as the following:

    [1] This is the place (that) I was born.

    This is an acceptable, albeit informally constructed, sentence, where 'that' - more typically ellipted - functions as a relative adverb of place (i.e. meaning 'in/at which'), whose only normally possible antecedent is the noun 'place', so that, in contrast,

    [2] *This is the city (that) I was born.

    is not possible.

    And these same factors tend to influence the acceptability of adnominal infinitive phrases such as those of your original sentences: the acceptability of [1] accounts for that of #1, while the unacceptability of [2] accounts for that of #3.

    A couple of additional observations:

    1. #3 is theoretically possible as a sentence, but only as one in which 'place' stands directly in a subject-complement relation to 'London', i.e. where the overall meaning is, not sensible

    London is the place in which one should be
    .

    but absurd

    !London is the place which one should be.

    The concept of recommending that someone should/could actually become a city - let alone a particular one - runs so inherently contrary to sense that most speakers would not consider the sentence usable under any set of circumstances, hence, to all practical intents and purposes, unacceptable.

    2. The strangeness/infelicitousness of #2 is not easy to account for, as, being structurally analogous to a wide range of possible, natural sentences, e.g.

    [3] A spoon is a thing to eat with.

    [4] Bears are animals to be wary of.

    [5] This is a problem to think about.

    etc., etc.

    , it certainly does not offend against any general rule of syntax.

    However, in [3] - [5], we note that the final preposition is obligatory to avoid the production of a sentence that is either ungrammatical or semantically absurd, while, as already established, quite the reverse applies to #2. The idiomatic tendency in such cases would thus seem to be: omit a deferred preposition where it is possible to do so without prejudice to either structure or sense.
    Last edited by philo2009; 10-Dec-2010 at 03:41.

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    #3

    Re: Usage of place

    To me they all sound ok. I suggest you do an internet search for any combinations of your sentences. I'm sure you will find them all.

    I don't like:[1] This is the place (that) I was born. How'd you get stuck on 'that' Philo? Why not use 'where'? '..... place where .....' It seems a much more natural relative pronoun for 'place', a location.
    [2] This is the city where I was born.
    'that' could, I suppose, be interpreted as a quantifier adverb in 'that seriously' 'that lovely' but as a substitiute for 'in which'? Use 'where'. Is that your own invention Philo: 'relative adverb'? Akin to relative pronoun?

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    #4

    Re: Usage of place

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    'that' could, I suppose, be interpreted as a quantifier adverb in 'that seriously' 'that lovely' but as a substitiute for 'in which'? Use 'where'. Is that your own invention Philo: 'relative adverb'?
    The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives "adv. ... 3. ... at which, on which, etc (at the speed that he was going he could not stop; the day that I first met her).

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    #5

    Re: Usage of place

    Pedroski wrote:

    To me they all sound ok.
    No doubt...

    I don't like:[1] This is the place (that) I was born.
    It is an acceptable sentence of informal English, but you are free to like or dislike whatever you please.

    How'd you get stuck on 'that' Philo? Why not use 'where'? '..... place where .....' It seems a much more natural relative pronoun for 'place', a location.
    [2] This is the city where I was born.

    If you had properly read and understood the argument, which relates to elliptability (a property of 'that' and not of other relatives), you would not be making such an inane objection.

    'that' could, I suppose, be interpreted as a quantifier adverb in 'that seriously' 'that lovely' but as a substitute for 'in which'?
    ...it serves commonly in contemporary English, although, being subject to ellipsis, its presence is often merely implicit. Further, its meaning is not restricted to 'in which', but may, according to case, be 'on which', 'for which' and so on.

    A few more examples of 'that' as a relative adverb, respectively of time, manner and reason:

    I was ill the day that she arrived.
    (= on which)

    This was the year that war broke out between the two countries
    .
    (=in which)

    This is the way that we've always done things.
    (= in which)

    That's the reason that I came home late that day.
    (= for which)

    Is that your own invention Philo: 'relative adverb'? Akin to relative pronoun?
    A standard grammatical term, but then I wouldn't expect you to know that.

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    #6

    Re: Usage of place

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnson_F View Post
    The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives "adv. ... 3. ... at which, on which, etc (at the speed that he was going he could not stop; the day that I first met her).
    Thank you, Johnson F, but you will quickly discover that attempting to educate Pedroski in grammatical terminology is a complete waste of time.

    Not only is he unlikely to actually read your post, but he has an annoying habit of arbitrarily redefining accepted terms to suit his own purposes, and is even not above inventing them when he sees fit!

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    #7

    Re: Usage of place

    A question: if a word has been elided, it's not there. How then can you be so sure 'that' was elided?

    A defintion of ellipsis is: the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.

    I was ill the day she arrived. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    I was ill the day that she arrived.
    I was ill the day when she arrived.
    (= on which)

    This was the year war broke out between the two countries. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    This was the year that war broke out between the two countries.
    This was the year when war broke out between the two countries.
    (=in which)

    This is the way we've always done things. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    This is the way that we've always done things.
    This is the way we've always done things. What has been ellided?
    (= in which)

    That's the reason I came home late that day. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    That's the reason that I came home late that day.
    That's the reason why I came home late that day.
    (= for which)

    at the speed that he was going he could not stop; ... the speed that ... 'that' a relative pronoun.
    the day that I first met her). ...the day that ..... 'that' a relative pronoun.

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    #8

    Re: Usage of place

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    1. A question: if a word has been elided, it's not there. How then can you be so sure 'that' was elided?

    A defintion of ellipsis is: the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.

    2. I was ill the day she arrived. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    3. I was ill the day that she arrived.
    4. I was ill the day when she arrived.
    1. That is an interesting question, and there is disagreement between writers in some cases, though my reading of the literature suggests that, in the example under discussion,we are dealing with ellipsis. One could 'prove' this only by numerous citations to show that the unellipted form preceded the ellipted form by some time,.
    2. Your own definition suggests that this is an example of ellipsis.
    3 and 4. Clearly no ellipsis. It would appear that these two sentences are grammatically complete, and therefore examples of ' the non-omission of one or more words ... that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete"
    .

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    #9

    Re: Usage of place

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    A question: if a word has been elided, it's not there. How then can you be so sure 'that' was elided?

    A defintion of ellipsis is: the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.

    I was ill the day she arrived. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    I was ill the day that she arrived.
    I was ill the day when she arrived.
    (= on which)

    This was the year war broke out between the two countries. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    This was the year that war broke out between the two countries.
    This was the year when war broke out between the two countries.
    (=in which)

    This is the way we've always done things. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    This is the way that we've always done things.
    This is the way we've always done things. What has been ellided?
    (= in which)

    That's the reason I came home late that day. No ellipsis, see above definition.
    That's the reason that I came home late that day.
    That's the reason why I came home late that day.
    (= for which)

    at the speed that he was going he could not stop; ... the speed that ... 'that' a relative pronoun.
    the day that I first met her). ...the day that ..... 'that' a relative pronoun.
    I don't think that we need to be lectured about ellipsis of relative adverbs by someone who is evidently unable to tell relative adverbs from relative pronouns, or, apparently, even ellipsis from elision!


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    #10

    Re: Usage of place

    That definition is not mine, I borrowed it from, Merriam Webster's, I think it was. It is flawed inasmuch as there will always be debate over the phrase 'grammaticaly complete'. My stance there is: small is beautiful, and I call 'I was ill the day she arrived.' 'grammatically complete'. Will you say it is not?

    'that' is really only ever a demonstrative pronoun, an ancient tool, a finger pointing at 'an object over there'. The ellipsis, if at all, follows 'that', and this creates the pronomial effect. 'that' is never an adverb.

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