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Thread: Where or which

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    Where or which

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    "Ninety per cent of people in Paris are exposed daily to levels of nitrogen oxides, the worst local pollutants, which are higher than the limits set by the European Union," deputy mayor Christophe Najdovski told me. "This is a serious public health issue. That's what lies behind the very strong action we are taking against the causes of pollution, and in Paris, the main cause is road traffic."

    The authorities reject the idea of introducing a London-style congestion charge zone, where motorists are charged for driving in the city centre. "We see this as a form of social discrimination, where those who can afford to pay can continue to use cars," says Najdovski.

    Instead, the city's authorities have introduced a low-emission zone, banning lorries on weekdays.

    social discrimination, where motorists are charged for driving in the city centre.
    I think the above is not correct. The word 'where' must point for a physical location.

    Here it is for 'social discrimination'. I think it should be 'which' here.

    I am not sure.

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    Re: Where or which

    Quote Originally Posted by Azitan View Post
    "Ninety per cent of people in Paris are exposed daily to levels of nitrogen oxides, the worst local pollutants, which are higher than the limits set by the European Union," deputy mayor Christophe Najdovski told me. "This is a serious public health issue. That's what lies behind the very strong action we are taking against the causes of pollution, and in Paris, the main cause is road traffic."

    The authorities reject the idea of introducing a London-style congestion charge zone, where motorists are charged for driving in the city centre. "We see this as a form of social discrimination, where those who can afford to pay can continue to use cars," says Najdovski.

    I think the above is not correct. The word 'where' must point for a physical location.

    Here it is for 'social discrimination'. I think it should be 'which' here.

    I am not sure.
    That's actually a good observation. In fact, many native speakers of English do use where (and it's counterpart subordinating conjunction when) when it might seem more grammatically correct to use something like in which.

    Here are some examples I found from a search of a corpus:

    • But in this day and age where everybody is like on Twitter and on Instagram...
    • It's a job where you can make a big difference, " McInnis said.
    • I even thought there were moments where I thought the cast members didn't really want to be there.
    • Kids are at waterfront. They're playing those trust games where you get blindfolded and have to walk around cones.
    • So are you from one of those musical families where everybody plays something different?

    You will rightly notice that the word where is used in a way that may seem incorrect--none of these refer to places.

    In spoken American English, we do this quite a lot, and I most listeners wouldn't even comment.

    So why do we do this? Well, in some cases it's simply because using the more prescriptive in which (or something similar) would sound stilted.

    There's a bit more to it than this, and I would be happy to expand on the specific situations that we tend to do this in, if you're curious. Just let me know what your questions are.
    ☼ Waiting for Godot

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