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Can the following sentences:

It's the church where the painting burned./It's the church in which the painting burned.

be transformed so that they do not contain the pronoun which/where in the following way:

It's the church the painting burnt in.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, JonMark Perry, Skooba, David Richerby, Scott Jul 10 '18 at 5:06

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  • 2
    You can certainly do it, and the meaning would be clear. But if you aspire to speak eloquently, it would be better to stick with one of the originals. – WS2 Jul 5 '18 at 8:35
  • Note that you have an ongoing ambiguity; 'it' may be non-referential. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 5 '18 at 9:36
  • I see this wasn't what you were asking, and "…the church the painting burnt in" will always be wrong. Didn't you mean either "the painting was burnt" or "the painting burned"? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 5 '18 at 19:15
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Yes, the relative pronoun can be omitted.

In informal styles, we often leave out the relative pronoun. We only do this in defining relative clauses, and when the relative pronoun is the object of the verb. We don’t leave out the relative pronoun when it is the subject of the verb nor in non-defining relative clauses [...]

("English Grammar Today", CUP)

In your example you have a defining relative clause.

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