I often see cases that a verb and a preposition are omitted as I posted a question the other day about the omission of “in” in the line, “Perry has had difficulty planting doubt about Romney.”

Today I saw the case “is” is omitted as “this a problem” in the following sentence of aNew York Times article written by Michael P. Lynch under the title, “Reason for Reason."

“Disagreements like this (Evolutionism and Creationism) give rise to an unnerving question: How do we rationally defend our most fundamental epistemic principles? Like many of the best philosophical mysteries, this a problem that can seem both unanswerable and yet extremely important to solve.”

I think it should be “this is a problem.” But if it is the case, can we use “a,” not “the” when “the problem” is modified (or defined) by “that clause”? (though I feel like an article maniac these days.)

Is the omission of “is” today’s fashion, or just a typo?

You may say the author isn’t NYT’s writer unworthy for digging in each phrasing. But according to opinionator @nytimes.com, Michael Lynch is a contemporary philosopher, who must be the master of logic and rhetoric.

  • 6
    I'm tempted to say it's just a typo.
    – user10893
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 2:16
  • 1
    "Is this a fashion?" In English, no. In Russian, yes.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 12:26
  • Being a master of rhetoric may mean you know how to turn a phrase to your advantage (note the rhetorical trick), but it doesn't necessarily mean you can communicate clearly. Being a master of logic may actually harm your undwerstanding of English, which is not the most logical of subjects. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 13:06
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a typo rather than on actual English usage. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 1:31

2 Answers 2


That usage is just not acceptable. There's no way that was intentional -- it's clearly a typo.


Looks like a typo to me. I don't recognize the sentence as grammatical. When you leave out the specifics, the sentence seems to be missing an 'is'.

Like X, this [is] a problem that can seem Y and Z.

Without the 'is' there, the sentence has no main verb.

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