I sometimes see sentences that begin with "In which", but I can't seem to understand the meaning, e.g.:

In which James demonstrates the presentation he's been working on.

Is this grammatically correct?

  • 12
    I don't think these constructions would normally be called "sentences". It's the kind of thing you used to get as "secondary chapter headings" in Victorian children's story books. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:52
  • @FumbleFingers that makes sense, I mostly encounter those in tweets. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:54
  • 7
    If you've been taught "It's ungrammatical to use strings other than sentences", you need to realise that that should have been stated "Sentences are the fundamental meaningful portions of verbal communication, as they express a complete idea in a clear way. With care, sentence fragments ('On the table.' 'Over here!' 'John and me at the seaside.' ... ) and substitutes ('Yes.' 'Hello!' 'Really?' ...) may be used, and are quite acceptable when used correctly." Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 22:02
  • @EdwinAshworth Yeah!
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 10:43
  • 3
    CGEL's coverage of 'secondary chapter headings in Victorian childrens story books' is rather thin. Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The practice comes from chapter headings of about a hundred years ago, which commonly summarized the chapter the reader was about to read. The best-known examples are Winnie-the-Pooh, with chapter headings like:

"In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle"

In other words: "(This is the chapter) in which..."

They are essentially headlines and so don't have to be complete sentences.

Modern usage refers back to that usage.


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