Noun Verb Spacing
An error that I occasionally encounter as an editor is improper spacing between the noun (subject) and verb.
In these cases, the reader is confused by the extra words, and can not easily identify who did what. Let's
consider an example:
Thus, DAT binding in METH abusers recovers following a short period of abstinence.
The italicized text separates the subject (DAT binding) from the verb (recovers). Not a bad case, no one
really would have trouble grasping the authors meaning. The improved sentence:
Thus, DAT binding recovers in METH abusers following a short period of abstinence.
Now another example:
A radioligand displaying good signal to noise ratios for DAT binding in extrastriatal regions, such as
the recently described PE2I, could provide useful information in the functional interaction of DAT between
cortical and sub-cortical regions.
In this example, the subject (radioligand) is separated from the verb (provide) by a lengthy (although
necessary) phrase. Most readers understand this sentence, although only after a momentary pause.
Rearranging this sentence generates a clearer passage:
The recently described radioligand PE2I displays good signal to noise ratios for DAT binding in extrastriatal
regions, and could provide useful information regarding the functional interaction of DAT between cortical
and sub-cortical regions.
In a straightforward manner, we learn that PE2I has a good signal to noise ratio, and this is why it may be
Finally, a more difficult case:
The AMPA receptor, weaker than the NMDA-type glutamate receptor and usually impermeable to
calcium due to post-transcriptional editing of the mRNA encoding one of the five subunits in the
transmembrane domain, has been implicated as a critical component required to activate silent synapses in
the process of LTP, following insertion into the postsynaptic membrane.
There are 30 words separating the subject (AMPA receptor) from the verb (has been implicated). The
participial phrase that ends the sentence, intended to clarify the activity, merely adds to the confusion. The
The AMPA receptor has been implicated as a critical component required to activate silent synapses.
In each of these examples, the meaning of the individual sentence is clear. However, read as part of a
paragraph, the excess information tends to slow the reader, making it difficult for him to understand the
writer's logic. The goal of the latter is to quickly and clearly convey a message, leaving no doubt in the
reader's mind about the writings meaning.