Prepositions can create different meanings depending on how we use them. It might help to go over some specific examples to give you a better idea. This article will explore “in,” “of,” “at,” and “to” when combined with the word “which.”
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Is It “In Which,” “Of Which,” “At Which,” or “To Which”?
The prepositional choice before “which” depends on the phrasal verb used in the sentence. We use “in” when the main verb can be combined with “in” (i.e. “found in”). “Of” works best with verbs like “spoke.” “At” works to talk about times or events. “To” works best with travel.
It might help to look more closely at some of the verb choices. We might see them used in the following ways:
- The way in which he found out was pretty dire. (found in)
- The people of which they spoke did not know of this. (spoke of)
- The time at which we attended was up for debate. (attend at)
- The place to which we climbed was impressive. (climb to)
Knowing how to use “in which” in a sentence is important. We use it whenever we’re talking about being “in” things, which includes phrasal verb choices that work well to talk about being “in” a certain situation.
It’s possible to rearrange a sentence with “which” in it to find out which phrasal verb works best:
- The manner in which they learned was something I hadn’t seen before.
- I hadn’t seen the manner they learned in before.
The two sentences above are identical, but we can rephrase the “in which” sentence to check on the phrasal verb. Since “learned in” is used here, it makes sense that we should use “in which.”
- The method in which they journeyed was up for debate. I’m sure there was something else to it.
- The way in which I found out was pretty brutal. I’m glad I know now, though.
- The people in which I trust this information do not seem to think that they’re worth my trust.
Learning how to use “of which” in a sentence is about as easy as “in which.” We can simply use “of” instead of “in” whenever we’re referring to phrasal verbs that contain “of.” Again, we can rearrange the sentence to confirm this.
- The people of which you speak are not here today.
- You speak of people that are not here today.
We can always rearrange the sentence in this way when using “which” phrases. If the preposition comes directly after your original verb choice, it’s worth remembering to use it.
- The things of which you speak are not mentioned here. We cannot simply let you continue.
- The things of which you know are irrelevant to us. We don’t see the point in learning about them.
- My friends, of which I’ve learned much about, will be arriving here shortly.
Next, how to use “at which” in a sentence should be covered. “At” is a bit more specific than the others. It works best when using dates or times that things are happening. “At” is a time-based preposition that should only be used for this purpose.
- The venue at which we will meet later today is just here.
- We will meet at the venue that is just here later today.
Again, rearranging the sentence structure is the easiest way for you to make sense of which preposition you should use. You won’t often find “at which” useful unless you’re referring to times or events, though.
- The time at which he told us he’d arrive here was wrong. He’s still not here yet.
- The venue at which we will host this later is not ready. What are we going to do?
- The time at which this took place is irrelevant to me. I don’t see the point in knowing that information.
Finally, knowing how to use “to which” in a sentence is fairly simple. We use “to” when referring to directions or travel. If we’re moving from one point to another, it’s likely that “to which” is going to be the most suitable prepositional phrase for you.
- The place to which they drove was quite spectacular.
- They drove to a quite spectacular place.
“To which” is a fairly simple one because it refers mainly to traveling verbs like “drive” or “walk.” As long as you’re talking about someone moving to a place, you can use “to which” in some capacity.
- The plaza to which they traveled was a bit far away. I didn’t want to do with them.
- The city to which he drove was miles out. I don’t know why he bothered to do that.
- The finish line to which he walked was miles away. I don’t envy his choices.
Is “In Which,” “Of Which,” “At Which,” or “To Which” Used The Most?
It might also help to learn which of the four prepositions is most common when using “which.” With this information, you should be better set to understand which one is more useful.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “in which” is by far the most popular choice of the four. The other three are all still used, but “in which” has a substantial difference in popularity compared to the others.
“Of which” used to be similar in popularity to “in which” but has since dropped off.
“At which” is the least popular choice, though there are still plenty of chances to use it. “At” is the most specific of the four prepositions, so it makes sense that it would only apply to the least amount of contexts.
When Should I Use “From Which”?
“From which” is another good choice that works with “which.” You should use “from which” when you are traveling from one place to another one. You might find that this works well when you’re referring to the starting point of a journey rather than the end point.
It might help to see it in action, so you can refer to the following examples:
- The place from which you came is back that way.
- The hotel is just over there, from which you can travel around the country.