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So today, I wanted to say to my coworker that half of the items lying on my labmate's desk are something that I don't know the purpose of, so I said this.

There are many items on his desk, half of which I don't know the purpose (of).

It's a subtle difference, but should I put "of" at the end of the sentence? I checked how Grammarly answers to this, but neither putting "of" nor not putting it was correct. (Not putting it was grammatically incorrect, but putting it make it "not colloquial") So what should I do in this case? Or is there any natural way to express this?

I also thought about saying this:

There are many items on his desk, half of which I don't know what they are for.

but I'm afraid it's even more incorrect because "they" in this sentence has already been mentioned as "half of which".

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I you are using that phrasing you will need to end with "of". It can be avoided by changing the phrasing more radically, using "and" to link to independent clauses.

There are many items on his desk, and I don't know the purpose of half of them.

You can also use a different expression at the end that carries a similar meaning (since knowing the purpose is similar to knowing the object)

There are many items on his desk, half of which are unknown to me.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion! Does it sound natural if I say; "There are many items on his desk, which I don't know half of them are for." I just wanted to know if I can stick to my natural urge to say "half of them" as early as possible. Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 11:23

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