This is the place 'that' he was born.


Senior Member
This is the place where he was born.
= This is the place in which he was born.
= This is the place that he was born in.
= This is the place that he was born.

Can I use 'that' as the substitute for 'where' or 'which'?
If so, are the last two sentences correct? If not, which one is correct?
'This is the place that he was born in.' or 'This is the place that he was born.'
  • Wondercow

    English - Canadian
    In the sentence given one cannot replace "where" with "that". In this example the word "where" functions as a relative adverb, a role that the word "that" cannot perform*, i.e. "where" relates the location of the man's birth to "right here". Native English speakers (especially in North America) will say such things, but it always rubs me the wrong way: one isn't born "that", one is born "somewhere".

    *"That" can be a relative pronoun, used to replace "which", "who", "whom", or "when"--but only for expressing time: The year that Obama was elected
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    Senior Member
    A little addendum to Wondercrow's comments: when 'that' is used in place of 'when' it is a relative adverb.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, all four are correct and normal. 'The place that he was born in' treats 'place' as a thing, and accordingly uses an ordinary relative marker. In fact it can be any of 'that', 'which' or zero here. 'The place where he was born' uses a relative marker 'where', appropriate only for places.

    The unusual one is 'the place that he was born'. This omits the preposition that is normally required. This is only possible when the antecedent is an extremely general word such as 'place' or possibly 'location'. You can't say :cross:'the house/street/country that he was born'.


    Senior Member
    I suspect that BrE speakers may have more tolerance for #4 (where 'that' serves as a relative adverb of place) than AmE speakers. I would say that it is certainly, at best, an informal-only construction.

    On account of this and, as the previous contributor pointed out, of the strict limitations on antecedent, it is probably best avoided by learners.