I was appalled to see this in this New York Times article by Motoko Rich (October 17, 2007) about author Raymond Carver:
Ms. Gallagher said the critics hadn't read the real Carver. "Ray really resisted this whole thing of being dubbed a minimalist," she said. She added that those who viewed Carver's later stories as more expansive than his early work, simply never knew that he had always been expansive.
I'm noticing an epidemic in the English language. It's common among British writers (apparently Rowling's Harry
Potter books are rife with this type of error), but it's becoming more common among American writers. The problem
is inserting a comma between a long subject and a verb. Writers often think that because the subject is very long,
there should be a comma after it to give the reader a little rest. Wrong. The subject in that sentence is long,
granted, but it's still a simple subject--that is, there are no interrupting clauses. Therefore, there should be
no comma between the subject and verb. Consider these other incorrect examples:
That man sitting in the train station, is the person I'm supposed to meet.
The growth in the field of environmental accounting, reflects our growing disillusionment with traditional models.
The full subject of the first sentence is that man sitting in the train station. The verb phrase sitting
in the train station is part of the noun phrase. There's no nonessential clause embedded in the subject; therefore,
there should be no comma before the verb. The second sentence has a long subject that encompasses a prepositional
phrase: the growth in the field of environmental accounting. If there were a nonessential clause embedded
in the subject, then it would be surrounded by commas. Here are correct examples that involve nonessential
That man, the one sitting in the train station, is the person I'm supposed to meet.
The growth in the field of environmental accounting, which attracts more idealistic youth than traditional accounting fields do, reflects our growing disillusionment with traditional models.
You might recall these slogans in advertisements:
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.
Those are wrong. Here's how those slogans should read:
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
It's what makes a Subaru a Subaru.
I understand that advertisers want to place emphasis on certain words or create subtle pauses in their slogans. If that's the case, then ellipses points are an effective (as well as grammatically correct) literary device:
What happens in Vegas . . . stays in Vegas.
It's what makes a Subaru . . . a Subaru.