• a house to live in
  • a place to live in

Does the second example essentially need the preposition 'in'?

In the first example, the noun 'house' is a specific place, so I've known to use to-infinitive it needs a preposition.

But the second noun is nonspecific, common. Then doesn't it need a preposition at all? Or is it okay to use a preposition?

  • 2
    No, a place to live specifically doesn't need a preposition, because it is a fixed phrase. Live requires a locative phrase, and the preposition doesn't add anything but locative marking, which is already there with place. Dec 16, 2022 at 2:36
  • 1
    I would say a place to live is common but informal. Since one cannot live a place, in less informal language, you'd need in. Dec 16, 2022 at 2:42
  • 1
    @Cerberus-ReinstateMonica People who need glasses to see aren't ones who see glasses. :)
    – tchrist
    Dec 16, 2022 at 2:59
  • @Cerberus-ReinstateMonica — I don't think anyone would ever say — formally or informally — I need a place to live in. Dec 16, 2022 at 3:17
  • No, the prep "in" is superfluous. Note that "to live" is a infinitival relative clause modifying "house" / "place".
    – BillJ
    Dec 16, 2022 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


This is, as Lawler notes, a fixed phrase. But it works with other infinitives also: you can say "a place to eat" but not *"a park to eat" or *"I eat the place."

Essentially, "a place to live" means "a (suitable) place for living," just as "a place to eat" means "a (suitable) place for eating."

  • 1
    Note that although to live is a relative infinitive (it's a compressed version of the relative clause where one can live and clearly modifies place), it can't use a relative pronoun: *a place where to live. Relative infinitives don't allow them unless they're pied-piped: a place in which to live but not *a place which to live in. And certainly not *a place which to live. Mar 24, 2023 at 17:45

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