A reader brought up a tricky grammar point in the comment section of Student Stumper 10. Her students were confused about the choice between which and where as a relative pronoun. Perhaps you have a clear and simple explanation you could offer. I suggested breaking down a sentence with an adjective clause to show the different meanings of which and where. For example: I remember the park where we first met. Where means there. We first met there. In contrast, consider this example: I walk my dogs in the park which is close to my house. Which means it. It (the park) is close to my house. The relative pronouns could not be switched in these two examples.
To help students feel more confident about their choice of relative pronoun. I offer the following activity.
Step 1 – Review the choice between which and where as a relative pronoun. You may give these examples and discuss why the pronouns may not be switched: Example 1 – I love the park which has the big fountain and bike path. / Example 2 – I love the park where you can feed the deer.
Step 2 – Ask students to name types of places around town of which there are two of more. For example, your town or city might have three museums or two movie theaters. They might know of at least four different coffee shops. List these places on the board by name. (E.g. The Boston Science Museum) Develop a list of four or five categories, such as museums, theaters, night clubs, cafés, and libraries.
Step 3 – Place students in small groups of three or four. Ask them to vote among themselves to decide which place is the best in each category. For each chosen place, they must write a sentence using an adjective clause with which or where as the relative pronoun, and they must leave out the name of the place. Example: We think the museum which has the dinosaur exhibit is the best one. / We like the museum where you can take a simulated rocket ride.
Step 4 – As a whole class, students will share their top choices in each category. Other groups will try to identify the place by name after hearing the clues, all of which are being presented with adjective clauses.
Printable version of this activity: Adjective Clauses Activity_handout