"by" vs "in"


Please have a look at these:

  1. Environmental pollution is a term that refers to all the ways in which man pollutes his surroundings => I think this is all right.

  2. Environmental pollution is a term that refers to all the ways by which man pollutes his surroundings => I’m not sure about this.

Many thanks

I’d pick up #1.
Environmental pollution is a term that refers to all the ways in which man pollutes his surroundings.

Hi Nessie

You must have forgotten this:

In my opinion, the word ‘in’ is much better than ‘by’. You could also say “… all the ways that man pollutes…”.

Thanks a lot, Amy :slight_smile:
No, I haven’t forgot that. Trouble is I have reviewed my exercises and found that there are two usages in one paragraph (First they used “in” and then “by”) :smiley:

Uhm… you said: “‘in’ is much better than ‘by’”, so is it completely incorrect?

Another big problem has arisen to me, Amy (+_+) I’ve discovered that native speakers usually use sentences in relative clauses without a preposition

“the reason” (not “the reason why” = “the reason for which”)
“the time” (not “the time when”)
and now:
“the ways that” (not “the way by which”)

It’s no little surprise to me because I’ve been taught the rule to use relative clauses with prepositions (the formers) and all the latters are considered incorrect here (+_+)
What do you think, Amy? Truly speaking, now I’m so confused. Of all the things I’ve been taught here, I don’t know which is right and which is wrong… :(:(:frowning:

I would need to see both sentences in order to possibly give you any kind of more specific input.

No, but I think ‘in which’ would be the more common choice in that sentence.

Have a look at this link and then let me know whether it helped:
The first page talks about defining clauses. You should also look at non-defining clauses. (You’ll find the link for that at the bottom of the first page.)

Thanks for the link, Amy :slight_smile:

It’s about relative pronouns and I’ve just finished reading it. There I found this sentence:

I don’t know the day when Jane marries him.
(not “I don’t know the day (that) Jane marries him”)

Here I am taught exactly the same rule. That’s why I am forever confused about the use of “the day/time + (that)” instead of “the day/time +when”…

Please shed light on this.
Thank you very much indeed.

Very useful!!! I always had problems with them.

Could any native speakers please shed some light on this?

Many thanks in anticipation.

To be honest, Nessie, it is not clear to me what “rules” you have learned, and I don’t understand what exactly it is that confuses you. In the post quoted above you seem to be saying that “the day when” is the same rule as what you previously posted. However, it appears to me that using “the day when” is contrary to the “rule” you said you had learned in your previous post. It is therefore difficult for me to comment on what “rule” or “rules” you have been taught or not taught, and what you understand or don’t understand.

Maybe someone else can sort out your question better than I can.
Maybe the best way to get your question(s) cleared up would be for you to write some sentences (using the target language – i.e. the words and structures you find confusing), and then to post those sentences here for comment.

Sorry for everything, Amy.

According to what I’ve been taught here,

  • These are correct:
  • the person who/that
  • the table/dog which/that
  • the boy whom/that they met
  • the place where/ in (or “at”) which
    (I was born at this place
    => This is the place where I was born
    => This is the place at which I was born)
  • the time when/the day when
    (Childhood is the time when most people are happy)
    (That was the day when she first met him)
  • the reason why/for which
    (That is the reason why/for which I left without saying goodbye)
  • And these are incorrect:
  • She was the one did the housework (without “who” or “that”)
  • This is the cow gave birth to two calves yesterday (without “which” or “that”)
  • This is the place I was born (without “where” or “at which”)
  • Last year was the time she was most unhappy (without “when”)

That’s one thing, and here is another:
Please consider these sentences:

  1. This is the house. I was born in this house
    => This is the house where/in which I was born
    => This is the house which I was born in
    According to what I am taught here, it is wrong to say: “This is the house (that) I was born”

  2. There are many ways. People make bread in those ways
    => There are many ways in which/by which people make bread.

And at last, I think I’ve found out what the problem is: Here I am taught that the relative pronoun “that” can just be used to replace “who”, “whom”, “which”, not “when” or “where”. Therefore I find it strange to see native speakers use “the time” without “when” and “the ways (that)” instead of "the ways by which/in which)

Many thanks and sorry for everything once again.