A student showed me the following sentence in her English textbook. She asked me to clarify why where is used in the sentence. Since I cannot read Japanese, can someone please explain why? I have been taught that where is only used for places or situations. In this case, it seems to be describing the noun (a type of corn, whatever it is) in more detail.

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  • 2
    "Where" has been bleached of its locative meaning here, and is the equivalent of "in which". "Where the kernel is hard on the outside ..." is a supplementary relative clause in which "where" has "corn" as its antecedent. The meaning is "a certain type of corn in which the kernel is hard on the outside ..."
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


I think you hit it with the word "situation". The condition of the corn kernel is a "situation"

See use 3 & 4 here: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/situation

  1. condition; case; plight: He is in a desperate situation.
  2. the state of affairs; combination of circumstances: The present international situation is dangerous.

The desparate & dangerous examples should not lead one to believe that the situation must always be negative.

  • 1
    In more formal writing, you might use wherein in place of where, for which there is no doubt as to its meaning. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 14:35

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