in/on/with... which to

Schizophrenic Cat

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi.

For many times, I've seen a structure that resembles to that of a relative clause. But I don't really know if it's perfectly grammatical to use it, or what its name is. Here is an example of it from New York Times:

Norway is the best country in the world in which to be a new mother, followed by Australia, according to Save the Children's annual State of the World's Mothers report, issued this month.

I can understand that it is exactly the same thing as ''Norway is the best country in the world to be a new mother in...'' What about the structure's name, and whether it is grammatical? ( I, myself, consider using ''was'' instead of ''were'' in unreal situations such as '' If I were you, I wouldn't...'' not grammatical, and always use ''were'' - though modern English has made the use of ''was'' acceptable, at least for informal language. With that said, I'd be glad if you would take it into consideration when writing an answer. Thank you. )
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    in which -> relative/adjectival phrase
    to be -> infinitive

    Compare:
    Norway is the best country in the world in which to see a new mother,
    Norway is the best country in the world in which to hunt lemmings,

    The prepositional phrase "in which" has replaced the earlier (and clearer) form: "wherein"
    ( I, myself personally consider using ''was'' instead of ''were'' in unreal situations
    The situation in Norway is not "unreal".
     

    Schizophrenic Cat

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    The situation in Norway is not "unreal".
    I just wrote it to give an example, thinking that subjunctive mood is a rule today that could be ignored. So I meant I wanted to know if it was perfectly grammatical, or it was something - like the case of subjunctive mood - that ought not to be used in formal writings etc.

    So, the structure is actually a relative phrase? And there wouldn't be any problem with using it wherever I want to?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    So, the structure is actually a relative phrase?
    Yes
    And there wouldn't be any problem with using it wherever I want to anywhere where it is appropriate?
    No, no problem. Here is the use in subjunctive clauses:

    "Imagine there were a machine with which to see the future..."
    "If there were something in which to carry this, it would be easier."

    It does not matter what {preposition + nominal} is used, the effect is the same.
     
    Last edited:

    Schizophrenic Cat

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Sorry for bothering again, but imagine that two humans that lived in old ages who witnessed a solar eclipse ( of course they don't have the slightest idea what a solar eclipse is ) yesterday had a conversation like this:

    - If we ( now ) had a device with which to have observed the surface of the sun yesterday, I would tell you what was going on up there.
    - Yeah, but it lasted only for a couple of minutes. There is nothing to worry about now.

    Would to have V3 be correct?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Would to have V3 be correct?
    The answer is here:
    It does not matter what {preposition + nominal} is used, the effect is the same.
    with which to have observed the surface of the sun is simply an adjective/relative phrase that modifies "device".

    You could also say
    with which we could have observed the surface of the sun and now it would be an adjective/relative clause that modifies "device".
     
    Last edited:

    Schizophrenic Cat

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I see. No: we would say 'with which to observe' because you are referring to what the device is for (it is a device with which to observe), not to the time-frame in which you use it.
    Actually, I was interested more in the general use of "to have V3" in this kind of sentence than in whether it was OK to use it in this particular sentence, with these particular words, lady. Let me make it more clear: If the situation really necessitated the use of two different tenses, one of which is a present tense while the other is a past tense, then we would use "to have V3". Right?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Actually, I was interested more in the general use of "to have V3" in this kind of sentence than in whether it was OK to use it in this particular sentence, with these particular words, lady. Let me make it more clear: If the situation really necessitated the use of two different tenses, one of which is a present tense while the other is a past tense, then we would use "to have V3". Right?
    Can you give me an example? Just to be sure exactly what kind of sentence you mean.
     

    Schizophrenic Cat

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Can you give me an example? Just to be sure exactly what kind of sentence you mean.
    As the scope is far too tight, I really can't think of another sentence that would do the trick. Let's take my "old ages" sentence.

    Let's say I want to write a sentence like this and don't want any change in its tenses:

    "If we had a device with which we could have observed the surface of the sun, then I would tell you what was going on up there."

    And let's say I paraphrased it like this, and again don't want any change:

    "If we had a device with which to have observed the surface of the sun, then I would tell you what was going on up there."

    Not considering that it's a device meant for observing, can we say the "to have V3" part is true?

    So I basically mean could we say in/on/with which to have V3 rather than in/on/with which to V1, when a sentence formed of a dependent and independent clause whose, for example, dependent clause has a present tense, and independent clause has a past tense?

    Actually the question is so simple, but I can't explain it well. And I think I already know the answer, and also I can draw a conclusion regarding the question from what you and PaulQ wrote. But I would like to hear a strong "yes" :)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In the cases of for observing and to observe - these have no tense. The tense (if the listener really wants a tense - and usually he does not) is implied by the active verb in the sentence.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top