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In the last chapter of The Catcher in The Rye:

A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I'm going apply myself when I go back to school next September.

What is the real subject? 'A lot of people', or 'this one psychoanalyst guy'?

It seems that the subject is 'this.. guy' because the verb is 'keeps', which does not match 'a lot of people'.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

In Standard English, formal agreement requires the plural keep. That’s because the head word in the noun phrase a lot of people is people, which is plural. The interrupting clause especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here makes no difference. However, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is not written in Standard English. It is written in the dialect of an American teenager and many non-standard dialects of English use the third person singular present tense verb form (keeps) for all persons and numbers.

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In my opinion, the real subject is that psychoanalyst because the word especially (meaning in particular) is used as a distinguishing adverb (in opposition to the usage as an ordinary adverb to modify an adjective, a verb, or even another adverb). Clearly, this guy is more interested than others in his decision.

Sometimes, specially is used instead of especially but they're not the same always. There is a very slight difference between 'specially' and 'especially'. The usage and the meaning of the words often overlap, however, especially is used a lot more than specially.

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