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"Nobody had a clear idea for what or where they supposed to search."

Does this construction look natural for natives?

I am trying to avoid ending the sentence with a preposition that would incorrectly modify also the adverb where.

Thanks.

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    "Nobody had a clear idea for what or where they were supposed to search." – Mick Nov 14 '17 at 12:40
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    A very minor point: I'd make it where or for what, to avoid even a momentary implication that where is an object of for. – StoneyB Nov 14 '17 at 12:50
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    You could also append for what. Nobody had a clear idea where they were supposed to search—or for what. Quite a ragged crew, those searchers. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 14 '17 at 13:19
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    Somebody should ask: Why do you want to avoid ending with a preposition? Nobody had any clue where to search, or what they were looking for. There's nothing wrong with that version. – J.R. Nov 14 '17 at 17:03
  • @J.R. Thanks for your suggestion. I avoided ending with the aforementioned preposition because the next sentence also included it. I put a little bit of space between the two for. – user65007 Nov 19 '17 at 12:41
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Nobody had a clear idea for what or where they supposed to search.

This is fine, except that there is a small chance it could be interpreted as:

Nobody had a clear idea for what or for where they supposed to search

So this:

Nobody had a clear idea where or for what they supposed to search

is a bit clearer.

In this:

Nobody had a clear idea where or what they supposed to search for.

there's little to no chance that anyone would attach the for to where. But it still sounds a bit awkward because it sounds like you tacked on the words "or what they were supposed to search for" without much forethought - which is fine in speech, but in writing, you have the time to think about it.

  • I chose the last but one, indeed, also specifying the perfect tense of the verb, were supposed. Thank you for your elaborate explanation! – user65007 Nov 19 '17 at 12:46

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