1. it was on the other side from where she had put her calf.

Context:

Just at this moment, she fell back into the river. If she were carried down, it would be certain death. I knew, as well as she did, that there was one spot where she could get up the bank, but it was on the other side from where she had put her calf.

It's from an article in a test.  I failed to find the original source, but there has been a discussion here:

https://forum.wordreference.co...ut-her-calf.3949426/

The problem is the two answers given by native speakers seem to contradict each other.

There are two possible analyses:

1. "from where she had put her calf" is a relative clause, with "where" referring back to "the other side"

2. Only "where she had put her calf" is a relative, a nominal one.  The sentence says "it was on the other side from a place, i.e. , where she had put her calf."

Which one do you agree with?

Last edited by Robby zhu
Original Post

Hi, Robby zhu,

@Robby zhu posted:

1. it was on the other side from where she had put her calf.

Context:

Just at this moment, she fell back into the river. If she were carried down, it would be certain death. I knew, as well as she did, that there was one spot where she could get up the bank, but it was on the other side from where she had put her calf.

It's from article in a test.  I failed to find the original source, but there has been a discussion here:

https://forum.wordreference.co...ut-her-calf.3949426/

The problem is the two answers given by native speakers seem to contradict each other.

There are two possible analyses:

1. "from where she had put her calf" is a relative clause, with "where" referring back to "the other site"

2. Only "where she had put her calf" is a relative, a nominal one.  The sentence says "it was on the other side from a place, i.e. , where she had put her calf."

Which one do you agree with?

I don't see the contradiction between the two opinions. Anyway, I interpret "where she had put her calf" as a nominal relative equivalent to "the place where she had put her calf." The problem you seem to be experiencing is related to the interpretation of "other." It all depends on the point of reference you are taking: if A is one place, B is the other; if B is one place, A is the other.

Hi, Robby zhu,

I don't see the contradiction between the two opinions. Anyway, I interpret "where she had put her calf" as a nominal relative equivalent to "the place where she had put her calf." The problem you seem to be experiencing is related to the interpretation of "other." It all depends on the point of reference you are taking: if A is one place, B is the other; if B is one place, A is the other.

Yes, you are right. When I reread the thread, I found that was no contradiction at all. Thank you.

Last edited by Robby zhu
@Robby zhu posted:

1. it was on the other side from where she had put her calf.

. . . The problem is the two answers given by native speakers seem to contradict each other.

There are two possible analyses:

1. "from where she had put her calf" is a relative clause, with "where" referring back to "the other site"

2. Only "where she had put her calf" is a relative, a nominal one.  The sentence says "it was on the other side from a place, i.e. , where she had put her calf."

Hi, Robby zhu—To add to Gustavo's fine answer, I'd like to say that the first analysis is grammatically invalid, except in those rare ungrammatical sentences where it may be said to describe a speaker's grammatical error.

Take, "place from where," which is malformed. Once in a while, speakers blunder thus. ("Where" is a prepositional phrase.) It should be "place where," "place from which," "place which . . . from," or "place that . . . from" From COCA:

place from where: 33
place from which: 243
place which: 386
place that: 8770
place where: 19,301

Regarding the error, similar items of grammatical garbage include "place in where," "place to where," "place at where," etc. All of them are wrong. At best, interpretation 1 can succeed in describing a speaker's grammatical error.

Last edited by David, Moderator
1. @David, Moderator posted:

Hi, Robby zhu—To add to Gustavo's fine answer, I'd like to say that the first analysis is grammatically invalid, except in those rare ungrammatical sentences where it may be said to describe a speaker's grammatical error.

Take, "place from where," which is malformed. Once in a while, speakers blunder thus. ("Where" is a prepositional phrase.) It should be "place where," "place from which," "place which . . . from," or "place that . . . from" From COCA:

place from where: 33
place from which: 243
place which: 386
place that: 8770
place where: 19,301

Regarding the error, similar items of grammatical garbage include "place in where," "place to where," "place at where," etc. All of them are wrong. At best, interpretation 1 can succeed in describing a speaker's grammatical error.

She often climbed the knoll behind the mission, from where she could look down on roofs and people.  ( The Cambridge Grammar of the English language, page 1050)

I think this is an exception, "where" linked to "knoll", but maybe it has something to do with the relative being non-restrictive. And the sentence seems to be wrong with "from which".

Last edited by Robby zhu
@Robby zhu posted:

She often climbed the knoll behind the mission, from where she could look down on roofs and people.  ( The Cambridge Grammar of the English language, page 1050)

I think this is an exception, "where" linked to "knoll", but maybe it has something to do with it being non-restrictive. And the sentence seems to be wrong with "from which".

That is an interesting, highly literary sort of example in which, I admit, "from where" does work, with the meaning "from there." I could imagine Jane Austin using it, or Chalotte Brontë, maybe even Charles Dickens.

It is not the sort of construction that I would advise a learner to use. "From which" works perfectly fine in that sentence, as does the highly formal word "whence." But most people would use two sentences.

• She often climbed to the knoll behind the mission, from which she could look down on roofs and people.
• She often climbed to the knoll behind the mission, whence she could look down on roofs and people.
• She often climbed to the knoll behind the mission. From there she could look down on roofs and people.

In all three sentences, the relative word (or adverb in the case of the third variation) could refer either to "the mission" or to the larger noun phrase in which that noun phrase is embedded: "the knoll behind the mission."

The latter is the more natural interpretation from the standpoint of meaning. If she'd been able to look down on roofs and people anywhere at the mission, there would have been no need for her to climb to the knoll to do so.

I'll have to think more about why "from where" just barely works in the literary construction you have brought up. (I think Huddleston and Pullum should have described it as literary.) It obviously doesn't work with other prepositions:

• *They returned to St. Paul's cathedral, in where they had been married.

At the same time, the acceptability of "from where" in the example you have cited does seem to be rendered possible by the relative clause's being nonrestrictive. I tend to agree with you there. I need to think more about this.

Last edited by David, Moderator

In all three sentences, the relative word (or adverb in the case of the third variation) could refer either to "the mission" or to the larger noun phrase in which that noun phrase is embedded: "the knoll behind the mission."

The latter is the more natural interpretation from the standpoint of meaning. If she'd been able to look down on roofs and people anywhere at the mission, there would have been no need for her to climb to the knoll to do so.

I'll have to think more about why "from where" just barely works in the literary construction you have brought up.

Is it possible, David, that "from where" works there because, as you said, the place being referred to is likely to be not just "the knoll" but "the knoll behind the mission"? Then, the referent is not just a noun (in which case the relative pronoun would be "which") but a locative phrase. Do you think this works?:

- They returned to the cathedral in the suburbs, from where they could observe the whole city.

Yes, Robby zhu. In my opinion, that would reinforce my belief that "where" can refer to a place (e.g. "in front of the window"), while "which" would be used to refer to "window" alone.

Is it possible, David, that "from where" works there because, as you said, the place being referred to is likely to be not just "the knoll" but "the knoll behind the mission"? Then, the referent is not just a noun (in which case the relative pronoun would be "which") but a locative phrase. Do you think this works?:

- They returned to the cathedral in the suburbs, from where they could observe the whole city.

I definitely agree about the locative meaning of the phrase, Gustavo. In these special relative clauses, "from where" means "from there"; the nonrestrictive relative clause can actually be rewritten as a separate sentence with "from there" replacing "from where":

• They returned to the cathedral in the suburbs. From there they could observe the whole city.
• She often climbed to the knoll behind the mission. From there she could look down on roofs and people.

While there is nothing preventing "which" from referring to "knoll" rather than "mission"—the noun phrase "the mission," whose head noun is "mission," is syntactically embedded within the higher noun phrase "the knoll behind the mission," whose head noun is "knoll"; thus, the relative pronoun "which" can take either head noun as its antecedent—I like your observation that, in phrases like "climbed to . . ." and "returned to . . .," the noun phrase complementing "to" (or forming its object) is a locative phrase, to which "where" may felicitously refer.

@Robby zhu posted:

https://thegrammarexchange.inf...rom-which-from-where

This is a relevant thread, but  I can't tell if Rachel provided a correct analysis.

Interesting thread. We haven't seen Mengxin in a while; I do miss the challenging questions that he would sometimes ask—but now we have you and deepcosmos (along with, lest I forget, the ever-present Navi).

I sense that Rachel was a bit hesitant in her answer. I can't recall her ever referring, in any other thread, to how a professor of hers would have parsed something. Although I agree that Mengxin's textbook's exercise is grammatical with "from where" ("Alice stood in front of the window, from where she could watch her classmates playing football"), I do not think that it is right to parse "where she could watch her classmates playing football" as a noun clause (fused relative clause, free relative clase, whatever term you like to use for them). If that were the correct analysis, and the noun clause were the object of the preposition "from," then the sentences below should work; but they don't.

• *Alice stood in front of the window, from there.
• *Alice stood in front of the window, from it.

The "where"-clause needs to be parsed as a normal nonrestrictive relative clause, one which simply contains the preposition "from." Notice that "from" can even be stranded in the clause. This is perhaps not very elegant, but it is grammatically possible; and it shows that the preposition "from" is part of the relative clause, as it could not be if the "where"-clause were functioning as the object of the preposition.

• Alice stood there, where she could watch them from.

I'm still working on identifying the conditions under which "from where"-relative clauses (and perhaps other "[preposition]-where"-relative clauses) work, and I haven't been able to decide whether such clauses must be nonrestrictive. The problem is that I hear and read such clauses so rarely, and they come so unnaturally to me as a native speaker, that I really have to bend my mind over each case, to decide whether it is something I could say if I were inclined to say it, and whether rules may be extracted from that to describe the overall, extremely rare phenomenon.

I definitely agree about the locative meaning of the phrase, Gustavo. In these special relative clauses, "from where" means "from there"; the nonrestrictive relative clause can actually be rewritten as a separate sentence with "from there" replacing "from where"

Hello, everyone,

I also think this thread is very interesting and still remember the case when we can replace 'preposition+which' into 'where' was wonderfully explained by David early last year in the following thread; https://thegrammarexchange.inf...5#663073463331267125

At almost same time, I saved the same thread above by Rachel for my reference.

Today I would like to tell you the reason I ask my same inquiry to the three well known grammar webs including 'The G/E' is, in fact, to understand fully the answers given to my inquiry, since I can't urge the good native respondents to keep providing detailed replies to me only. And also more importantly, it becomes easy for me to grasp the answers only when I compare and integrate them, since someone explains me with a traditional grammar and someone does with a modern one. However, I've never taken advantage of any answer from a grammar web to the others to refute their opinions, and am fully sure the response from 'The G/E' is most standing out, when someone finds my inquiry while searching on Google to find their similar question.

Always really appreciating all of your supports.

Last edited by deepcosmos

Thanks to all of you.  I think the point I need to take away is that "from where" is not common，because I thought it was.  So in most of the cases I can simply bracket off such analyses as (1) in my original post.

Is it possible, David, that "from where" works there because, as you said, the place being referred to is likely to be not just "the knoll" but "the knoll behind the mission"? Then, the referent is not just a noun (in which case the relative pronoun would be "which") but a locative phrase. Do you think this works?:

- They returned to the cathedral in the suburbs, from where they could observe the whole city.

I haven't read all of the contributions in this thread, but here's my humble opinion:

In English, it is okay for the preposition "from" to take a PP as the object. For example, "from behind the curtain" is correct. Therefore, if we can replace "behind the curtain" with "where," then it isn't surprising to see the sequence "from where."

This may sound unlikely, but in "She often climbed the knoll behind the mission, from where she could look down on roofs and people," could "where" refer simply to "behind the mission"? That'd be assuming the mission was at a higher altitude than the roofs and people.

Speaking of "look down on" or "overlook," I looked up the synonym "command" in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, where the definition uses "where" in reference to "position":

command something (formal) to be in a position from where you can see or control something

https://www.oxfordlearnersdict...on/english/command_2

I'm also thinking about the very basic question-answer pair, "Where are you from? I'm from Turkey."

Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon

I'm wondering whether anyone has considered the possibility that "where" is a nominal. Is it modifiable by a relative clause beginning with "that"?

I found the following on Google Books:

Where are you going that you don't want your pastor to know about ?

Is the that-clause a relative clause?

If "where" can be a nominal, can it be a relative pronoun by extension and thus occur in positions following "from" and refer to the knoll in the Cambridge example?

Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon
@Robby zhu posted:

I think the point I need to take away is that "from where" is not common，because I thought it was.

Hello, Robby—It is not the sequence "from where" that is not common in my native-speaking experience. The sequence "from where" quite regularly occurs when "where" introduces a free relative clause; for example:

• From where I am standing, I can see Half Dome.

In that case "from where I am standing" is an adverbial prepositional phrase; the free relative "where I am" forms the object of the preposition "from." "From where I am standing" is not a relative clause there; it doesn't modify a noun.

Last edited by David, Moderator

In English, it is okay for the preposition "from" to take a PP as the object. For example, "from behind the curtain" is correct. Therefore, if we can replace "behind the curtain" with "where," then it isn't surprising to see the sequence "from where."

This may sound unlikely, but in "She often climbed the knoll behind the mission, from where she could look down on roofs and people," could "where" refer simply to "behind the mission"?

Excellent points, Ray. You are absolutely right that the preposition "from" can itself be complemented by a prepositional phrase, and I agree with you that "where" may refer to such a locative prepositional phrase in a relative clause.

That gives us a nice recipe for acceptability, though I am not sure it covers all cases. Perhaps it does cover the CGEL example, "from where" indicating "from behind the mission" rather than "from the knoll behind the mission."

. . . I consulted the synonym "command" in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, where the definition uses "where" in reference to "position":

command something (formal) to be in a position from where you can see or control something

That's an interesting case, in that it exhibits a "from where" relative clause that is restrictive rather than nonrestrictive. I myself would use "from which" rather than "from where" in such a case. Perhaps it is a British–American difference.

Ray, I'd be interested if you could come up with a restrictive "from where" relative clause that takes a PP as the antecedent of "where"—that would be quite something! I doubt it's possible, but I'll suspend judgment for now.

Last edited by David, Moderator

I found that the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, another British dictionary, gives the following definition of "follow your nose":

to go to the place from where there is a particular smell coming

https://www.ldoceonline.com/di...ary/follow-your-nose

Would you use "from which" here?

Hi, Ray—No, I wouldn't use "from where" there. I’d use a zero relative with a stranded preposition and no There-Insertion:

• to go to the place a particular smell is coming from
Last edited by David, Moderator