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a place to live VS a place where to live

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the second one sounds strange as hell. the first one is what everybody says. I think you are misunderstanding 'to' here. Some similar examples:

meat to cook (meat used for the purpose of cooking, meat which will be cooked)

money to spend(money used for spending, money which will be spent)

a place to live(a place used for living living, a place which will be lived in)

admittedly some examples which fit this formula don't sound right or seem to make sense, for example "a bed to sleep", but 'a place to X' is a very common expression, you could also have 'a place to teach', 'a place to relax', 'a place to drink', etc.

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The first two examples are quite different from the third, because both “cook” and “spend” are transitive verbs, while “live” is not.

We can cook meat, spend money, but obviously, we can’t live a place.

Despite the wide use of “a place to live” , I find the usage hard to accept.

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I think "a place to live" is just an abbreviated form of "a place to live in" or "a place in which to live".

In any case, it's a very common and normal expression.

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This is just one of the (admittedly confusing) rules of English grammar.

"A place where to live" would not be right because question words don't seem to appear in descriptive phrases with "to"-structures. "Where" plays a role similar to "A place"; one substitutes for the other. So you could say "a place to live" or "where to live", but not a combination of both.

Similarly, these are wrong (correct versions are given in parentheses):

- "a way how to do it" (should be "a way to do it" or "how to do it")

- "[the] time when to depart" (should be "time to depart" or "when to depart")

These clauses are also fine (notice the last one - it uses "when", but this is because "when" is appearing not as a question word, but as an equivalent of "that"):

- "the time [that] we depart [at]" / "the time at which we depart" / "the time when we depart"

So question words generally can't be included. Another example:

- "a way how to do it" (wrong) --> "a way to do it"/ "a way [that] we do it" (correct)

Finally, as anonymoose says, "A place to live" can be seen as an abbreviation of "A place to live at/in". These trailing prepositions ("at", "in", etc.) are dropped in certain structures like these. Think about the simple sentence:

"Where do you live?"

This can be answered with a response like "I live at Fawlty Towers." Notice that "at" appears in the response but not the question - because "at" is left out, or perhaps 'absorbed' by "where". For this reason, we generally prefer not to ask "Where do you live at?"

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