I am currently engrossed in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

As Sharon Bakar has pointed out, the author has missed out the apostrophes for certain words like: didnt, wont, dont.

I haven’t done a thorough search but perhaps Mr McCarthy has deliberately done this whenever there is a contraction of the word “Not”.


But, as a reader, what I found quite jarring to begin with were the many missing verbs.

On page 5:

Along the shore a burden of dead reeds.”

A good editor would rewrite the sentence as:

Along the shore STOOD a burden of dead reeds.”

Here’s another taken at random: “At evening a dull sulphur light from the fires.” To be grammatically correct this would become: “At evening there SHONE a dull sulphur light from the fires.”

His sentence “On the hillsides old crops dead and flattened” would be edited into “On the hillsides old crops LAID dead and flattened”

As we know for a sentence to be a sentence it needs both a subject and a verb.

But Cormac McCarthy is a master. He has gone beyond the grammatical sentence. He misses verbs deliberately when it suits the writing. The verb is implied. He is not the first author to do this. When the verb is implied, the reader can slot it any verb the reader likes!

I suggest beginner authors not try this . . . until they become great authors like Cormac McCarthy. But that advise strikes me as being a little bit too safe, like a lawyer covering himself from a legal suit. Why not give it a go? Just to experiment?

Do you dare deliberately miss out verbs?