I heard an interesting thing about grammar and mystery novels when I was at Stanford the other day.

It's possible that clues appear more often in subordinate clauses than main clauses of mystery novels because people aren't as drawn to the subordinate clauses. The professor speculated that putting a clue in a subordinate clause is a way to hide it in plain sight.

Has anyone else heard this theory or noticed it in practice?

Mignon Fogarty is better known online as Grammar Girl.
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Published on April 22, 2012 15:31 • 3,322 views • Tags: grammar, mystery
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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Ooh, I'd be thrilled to see an example of that. What a fascinating idea!


message 2: by Mignon (new)

Mignon I believe his examples came from Sherlock Holmes, but I didn't get the actual sentences since I got the info second hand.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I haven't noticed it, but I bet I'll be looking for it now!


message 5: by Mignon (new)

Mignon Great find, Susan! Thank you.


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark Allen She drove to the zoo in the red Ferrari oblivious to the bloody machette tucked under the seat on that bright, sunny day.

Not subtle enough?


message 7: by Mignon (new)

Mignon Ha! Nice, Mark.


message 8: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer would love to see an example!!!!


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