I'm editing a paper and the author (native German) has written several instances of 'where' at the beginning of a sentence as a main clause. He means to explain the symbols in the equation that preceeds the sentence, but his use of 'where' is not appropriate. I can't seem to find a good enough explanation for this mistake. Do you?

Here are two examples:

---Equation XYZ--- Where XYZ is the ratio of cross section between adjacent segments in x-direction p,j and p+1,j.

---Equation XYZ--- Where X is the Modulus of elasticity and Y the cross section area of the segment p,j.

  • 6
    This looks like perfectly standard mathematical exposition, eg here. Or am I misunderstanding you?
    – Colin Fine
    May 25, 2018 at 11:52
  • 3
    I agree, looks perfectly fine for a mathematical paper. May 25, 2018 at 12:08
  • 1
    If 'where' is capitalised, it means that 'Where XYZ is the ratio of cross section between ...' is being used as a fragment. '..., where XYZ is the ratio of cross section between ...' would be preferred by some. // I don't see how XYZ can be both an equation and a ratio. May 25, 2018 at 13:02
  • 4
    It's perfectly grammatical. Think of where as in which. May 25, 2018 at 13:27
  • Analogous to: "Greece, where the gods live"
    – loonquawl
    May 25, 2018 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


This is correct. Some may prefer the form ", where..." but this has become common form because most word processing software will automatically capitalize the fragment.

To explain why this is correct, you have to consider that someone who knows how to read the equation will read it, followed by the fragment, as a single sentence.

For example:

"E (energy) equals MC squared, where M is the mass in question and C is the speed of light."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.