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The houses on Canal street, of which many had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.

Is the modifier "of which many... storm" correct?

I know that "on canal street" is a prepositional phrase so it cannot be the antecedent of "which". also, I can say that "of which many... storm" is a subgroup modifier which modifies "houses."

But I doubt whether the modifier is properly used. My friend suggested this:

The houses on canal street, many of which had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.

Although I know that this is correct and more appropriate, I cannot figure out what is wrong with the original sentence.

Is the modifier "of which many... storm" correct or not, and why so?

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  • How about - "Many storm damaged houses on Canal street looked abandoned." Jun 11, 2014 at 9:24
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    There is nothing more correct or appropriate about either of these versions. They are both grammatically, semantically, and idiomatically fine. Jun 11, 2014 at 9:46
  • As JBJ notes, both versions are grammatical etc. IMO the first (with “of which many”) is a better-sounding sentence. Jun 11, 2014 at 13:49

1 Answer 1

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First of all, I would have said the same as your friend. Though, both solutions are grammatically possible.

Without the relative clause, you would have two sentences.

The houses on Canal street looked abandoned. Many of them had been damaged in the storm.

The use of a relative clause turns "many of them" into "many of which" or also "of which many".

The houses on Canal street, many of which had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.

or:

The houses on Canal street, of which many had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.

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  • delving deep, can you tell me why "many of which" is preferred to "of which many"? what's the make or break difference between those two?
    – vickyace
    Jun 11, 2014 at 9:48
  • I would say it is merely because we are more used to "many of which", it sounds more rounded to us.
    – skymningen
    Jun 11, 2014 at 9:48

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