I wonder if it's grammatically or stylistically correct to start a sentence with "Where"

e.g. Where the wardrobe is, there is no dust"

It sounds a bit weird to my ear but I don't know exactly why.

  • It doesn't sound wrong, so it is at least colloquially acceptable. – BladorthinTheGrey Sep 6 '16 at 21:42
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    It's an example of inversion (from the idiomatically standard sequence There is no dust where the wardrobe is). You tend to meet it in poetic/literary contexts, and aphorisms/sayings. It's not at all common in normal conversation. – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '16 at 21:51
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    It is appropriate for a proverb or for a song, e.g. "Where the boys are, someone waits for me". It would sound rather pompous in ordinary speech. – michael.hor257k Sep 6 '16 at 21:52
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    @deadrat And writing in good style can be difficult, but remember: where there's a will, there's a way. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 6 '16 at 22:50
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    @BladorthinTheGrey: Where there's muck, there's brass. And so on and so forth. But all these examples are either well-established "frozen forms" themselves, or they're latter-day attempts to emulate such traditional sayings. This kind of inversion is hardly "colloquially acceptable" within the context of new dynamically-generated conversational utterances except when there's an element of "facetiously" playing with forms. – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '16 at 23:43

In your specific example, it is fine. It sounds a little weird only because it is more common to say a sentence like this the other way around. (There is no dust where the wardrobe is.)

But if we always said things the most common way, books would be hella dull.

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  • +1 for the little flourish at the end of your answer, made me chuckle – Kanga_Roo Sep 7 '16 at 15:38

Where the wardrobe is, there is no dust.

What you wrote is called a Complex Sentence. It has one main (independent) clause and one subordinate (dependent) clause.

Main clause: there is no dust [As you can see, an independent clause can stand on its own as a sentence.]

Dependent: Where the wardrobe is

The dependent clause is an adverb dependent clause that acts like an adverb modifying the verb "is" in the main clause. It answers what an adverb may ask, "Where?" "Where is there no dust?" Where the wardrobe is. [There is, where the wardrobe is, no dust.]

All you did was move the clause to the beginning of the sentence, and when you do that you usually add a comma. If you place it in the usual position, the sentence becomes clearer:

There is no dust where the wardrobe is.

Used as a subordinating conjunction in your sentence, where means: at, in, or to the place indicated --Webster's.

In your sentence "the place indicated" is where the wardrobe is kept, maybe an air-tight closet, well sealed to keep out the dust and moisture.


"Where the vulture are, there lies the carcass."

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  • Do you smell smoke? Where there's smoke, there's fire. – Elliott Frisch Sep 6 '16 at 22:54
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    I don't see how this answers the question ("I wonder if it's grammatically or stylistically correct to start a sentence with "Where""). – michael.hor257k Sep 6 '16 at 23:19
  • Where there's a will, there's a way. – Airymouse Sep 7 '16 at 0:33

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