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I texted my mother and told her that I was eating in a restaurant.

My mother asked:

What restaurant are you in?

Or

In what restaurant are you?

(I'm inside the restaurant and I'm eating something.)

Are these sentences correct in informal English?

If it's not , what would a native speaker suggest?

Thank you.

  • To me, "What restaurant are you in?" sound more natural (though this particular scenario always begs for a better solution -- which only appears achievable with more verbosity). – Hot Licks Oct 24 '15 at 9:23
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Grammatically correct response would be:

"In what restaurant are you eating?"

But a more natural sounding choice of words would be:

"In which restaurant are you eating?" (or 'sitting' or 'waiting')

or (more informally)

"Which restaurant?"

and even more informally

"Where?" or "Where is this restaurant?"

The first version your mother asked is incorrect because for some ridiculous reason, the rules of English state that it is not acceptable to end (have as the last word) any sentence with a preposition (sometimes called an auxiliary verb, and sometimes called a helping verb) and the word 'in' is a preposition.

Other prepositions are:

with

of

from

to

as

I think there are a couple more that I can't recall at the moment.

Though, keep in mind, that many native English-speaking people get this wrong all the time and it is a commonly and easily forgiven technical error of minor importance (in my opinion).

A Writer's Reference - Fourth Edition states:

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition such as at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, or with and ends with a noun or a noun equivalent called its object.

  • I'm not clear why you say the first is the grammatically correct response. In which restaurant are you eating sounds perfectly grammatical to me, and is less stridently inquisitive. – WS2 Oct 24 '15 at 8:20
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    The difference being either the choice of what as opposed to which - 'what' is not quite appropriate because what the first speaker is in is a restaurant, as they've already stated. – Sk Johnson Oct 24 '15 at 8:28
  • Also notice the difference between the first reply the OP wrote and my corrected version of it which adds eating to the end of the sentance for reasons stated above. – Sk Johnson Oct 24 '15 at 8:32
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    @keramus SK Johnson already answered your question with "in which restaurant" sounds more natural. – user140086 Oct 24 '15 at 8:53
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    @JanusBahsJacquet It may be worth pointing out, as it is not clear from your comment, that you can have a personal rule of avoiding sentences which end with prepositions, if you want. And you will not be hauled up in front of the magistrates for so doing. – WS2 Oct 24 '15 at 9:01

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