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a. I’ve found somewhere where they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

(From this Guardian news article)

Is it just me or is the repetition of where bothering anyone else? Why not just lose the second where as in (b)?

b. I’ve found somewhere they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

Alternatively, how about using 'some place' or 'a place' (I find the one word 'someplace' a bit too colloquial)?

c. I’ve found some place where they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

d. I’ve found a place where they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

Does (b), (c) or (d) sound any better than (a)?


None of the answers to this question addresses my question directly or competently.

Firstly, omitting where is not the issue here. The issue is what the alternatives to somewhere where are. Only (b) brings out the issue of omitting where.

Secondly, the earlier question cannot even resolve the issue of omitting where as in (b). The only answer there that discusses omitting where is @herisson's:

...the words or phrases ending in place, as in "They have failed every place they have been tried" (as well as the pro-forms there and where)

Which means that where can be omitted when the antecedent ends in place, there or where. But this is not readily applicable to somewhere because it's not clear whether a compound word like somewhere should be considered an antecedent ending in where in @herisson's answer. Moreover, @Michael Harvey and @Hot Licks disagree as to the acceptability of (b).

Last but not least, regardless of whether (b) is an acceptable alternative to (a) or not, I'd like to also know whether (c) and (d) are acceptable alternatives, which is decidedly the more important issue of the question. And neither (c) nor (d) involves the issue of whether to omit where or is covered by the earlier question in any way, shape, or form.

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  • 2
    I find 'someplace' a bit too American, as well as colloquial, but that is opinion-based, like this question. Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 11:10
  • The writer is saying that London is where people apologise if you bump them 'on a crowded tube'. Although British people all over the country do that, only London has an underground railway system often informally called 'the tube' (small or large T). People often use "a tube" (small or large T) to mean a train on that system. So it's London. Whether you consider London a 'place' is a matter of opinion and context. If the double 'where' bothers you (I don't mind it), I would support your (b) and (d) suggestions, but not (c). Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 11:50
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    B isn't right -- it has a different meaning.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 12:47
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    @EdwinAshworth Please see the addendum.
    – listeneva
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 1:55
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    @MichaelHarvey Please tell me what part of my question is "opinion-based". Note that someplace is not included as an alternative to consider.
    – listeneva
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 2:01

2 Answers 2

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Specimens a, c, and d are correct. Specimen d is the most natural. If you omit where (as in specimen b), somewhere ceases to function as a noun (meaning some unspecified place) and instead functions as an adverb (meaning in some place). That changes the meaning. So though you could say that b is correct, b is not a more euphonious version of a.

Here (a), somewhere functions as a noun, modified by a relative (adjective) clause headed by the relative adverb where:

I’ve found somewhere where they apologise to you if you bump them.

I’ve found some unspecified place where they apologise to you if you bump them.

Here (b), somewhere functions as an adverb (kind of like somehow), modifying the verb found and followed by a that-clause (which functions as a noun):

I’ve found somewhere [that] they apologise to you if you bump them.

I’ve found in some place [e.g. in a book or on a website] that they apologise to you if you bump them.

I’ve found [that] they apologise to you if you bump them. (adverb/adverb phrase can be omitted)

Not:

*I’ve found some unspecified place [that] they apologise to you if you bump them. (incorrect; a noun phrase doesn't work here)

Here (c and d), some place and a place function as nouns, each modified by a relative (adjective) clause headed by the relative adverb where. In the context of your sentences, some is an informal version of the indefinite a:

I’ve found some place where they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

I’ve found a place where they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

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(d) and (c) are correct: “some place” in (c) and “a place” in (d) are antecedents; both are followed by restrictive where-clauses.

See: Cambridge dictionary grammar on “where”, section Where as a relative pronoun.

In the comments, Michael Harvey argues that “some place” sounds a bit too American. I can relate. I prefer (d) to (c).

(b) is also correct, but its meaning is slightly different. It is not (c) with “place” omitted. Rather, it is

I’ve discovered that somewhere they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube.

with “discovered” replaced by its synonym “found (out)”, and with “(the fact) that” omitted.

The object phrase needs not start with “somewhere” since “somewhere” is not a relative, but an indefinite pronoun:

I’ve found (that) they apologise to you if you bump them with your backpack on a crowded tube, somewhere.

I agree with you that (a) sounds the least correct: the double “where” sounds somewhat off to my ears.

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  • Thanks. But I think the antecedent is 'place' in (c) and (d). And please note what @MichaelHarvey finds "a bit too American" is not 'some place' but 'someplace', and I have told him that the latter is not even presented as an alternative.
    – listeneva
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:30
  • There might be grammars out there that consider only the main noun of a noun phrase to be the antecedent, but to me it makes more sense that the entire noun phrase (so including “some” or “a”) is the antecedent, since the relative phrase modifies/restricts the entire noun phrase.
    – Adhemar
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:34
  • Since I’m unable to hear the space in “some place” when pronounced without any distinguishable pause in between, “some place” and “someplace” sound alike, and both sound American. ;-)
    – Adhemar
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:37

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