Why is there a 上 in this sentence? How does it change the meaning? Ie, what's the difference between 工作的东西 and 工作上的东西? When should 工作上 be used as opposed to 工作?
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Actually, there's not so much difference.
工作上的东西,工作的东西both mean something related to your work.
上actually doesn't mean too much , Chinese language is not that strict as English, you don't have to understand every word.
More examples about
-孩子,你在看什么?(Son, what' are you viewing?)
-妈妈,我在看学习上的书(Mom, I am just viewing some academical books)