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In my mother tongue I can use the word where not only to describe something connected to a location, but also to substitute in which.

My question is: Is it correct to use where in a sentence like this?

Describe a situation where you had to show leadership.

Or it would be better to use in which instead?

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1 Answer

Both. Where is well understood as applying to time, figuratively at least, and the usage you give would be common.

Some would favour in which, especially in formal writing, so it might be advisable to use it in such cases. In very informal cases, it might seem slightly stuffy, but not so much that I'd advise strongly against it.

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But note that there are also many cases where "in which" cannot be replaced by "where". For example (from the dictionary): "a coffin is a long box in which a dead person is buried". –  Peter Shor Feb 8 '13 at 18:27
True, @PeterShor, but the more formal "wherein" is usable in that example, "a coffin is a long box wherein a dead person is buried". Spurred by that thought, I found this ELU question that addresses use of "wherein": english.stackexchange.com/questions/2725/… –  Kristina Lopez Feb 15 '13 at 19:09
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