In What City or In Which City – Which Is Correct? (UK/US)

With the number of mysteries the world carries, there’s so much room for curiosity in our life. Naturally, asking questions has become a part of our everyday routine. But, knowing whether to use ‘what’ or ‘which’ in a given situation can be quite confusing. Which is which? What is it?

In What City or In Which City – Which Is Correct?

‘In which city’ and ‘in what city’ are both grammatically correct, depending on the given context of the sentence. Generally, we use ‘in which city’ when choices are given to answer the question. On the other hand, we use ‘in what city’ when there are no presented choices.

In What City or In Which City

Take a look at the two examples below.

  • I know all of us are either from New York City or Los Angeles. You, in which city do you live?
  • I haven’t seen you here before. What city did you come from?

In the first example, we used ‘which city’ because we’re presented with two choices as to which city the person may be living in, and that’s either New York City or Los Angeles. On the other hand, in the second example, the speaker has no idea as to what city the person belongs to, and so there are no presented choices, thus using ‘what city’ instead.

Generally, we don’t interchange the two phrases. We use ‘which’ when there are choices and ‘what’ when there are none. However, there are special cases wherein a situation may have implied choices, so even without the speaker verbally mentioning such choices, ‘which city’ may still be used.

For example, if the situation determines that everyone is from New York, it would limit the choices of a person to only the cities in New York. So, without the speaker verbally saying these possible cities, the speaker can still say ‘Which city in New York do you live in?’ and ‘What city in New York do you live in?’ alternatively.

In What City

‘In what city’ is an interrogative phrase or question that asks someone about a particular city or place. We usually use this when asking about a city that we can’t pick from a pool of choices or one that we have no idea or clue about.

We use ‘in what city’ when we can’t pinpoint a possible clue for that city, or when there are no choices as to what that city could be. Take a look at the example below?

  • What city do you live in?

In the example above, the use of ‘what city’ indicates that the speaker has no idea as to what city the person may be living in, nor is there any pool of choices or possible cities where the person may be living in. In the case that there was a pool of choices, we use ‘which city’ instead.

Below are examples of using ‘what city’ in a sentence.

  1. In what city can you find Sheila?
  2. In what cities have you been to already?
  3. In what city did you have the most fun exploring?
  4. In what city do you want to go to next?
  5. In what city will the field trip be?

In Which City

‘In which city’ is an interrogative question or phrase we use when we ask about a city or place, and we have choices or clues as to what the answer or city would be. Whenever there’s a pre-determined pool of options, we use ‘in which city.’

Take a look at the example below.

  • I know we’re all either from Brookhaven or Amherst. In which city do you live?

In the example above, the speaker determines that in the given situation, the person can only be in two possible cities, which are Brookhaven and Amherst. The pre-determined possible choices that the person now only has to choose from allow us to use ‘in which city’ in the sentence.

It’s essential to note that these choices or options may or not be verbally or literally part of the sentence. Rather, they may be implied in the given context or situation of the speakers.

Below are examples of using ‘in which city’ in a sentence.

  1. Between San Diego and San Jose, in which city did you have the most fun?
  2. In which cities in New Jersey did you explore?
  3. In which cities did Texas declare new regulations?
  4. In which city does the New Yorker live again?
  5. In which city did you find the famous girl from Arizona?

In What City or In Which City In the UK?

According to the UK Google Ngram Viewer, with a large difference, ‘in which city’ is used more often than ‘in what city’ in British English. It is probably because they use it in situations that have pre-determined or implied choices already, whether said verbally or not. Thus, using ‘in which city’ more often.

In What City or In Which City UK usage

In What City or In Which City In the US?

According to the US Google Ngram Viewer, ‘in which city’ is used more often in the US compared to ‘in what city.’ It is most probably because we also tend to use the phrase whenever there are implied choices for that situation already.

In What City or In Which City US usage

Final Thoughts

‘In which city’ and ‘in what city’ are both correct, depending on the given situation and context of the sentence. If there are implied choices or options, we use ‘in which city.’ In other times when we have no choices or clues at all, we use ‘in what city.’