Came across this sentence in a story I was editing. It was a quotation.
"Separating out the variables quickly clarifies to job hunters concerned about earning power [and] which fields pay most."
It contains a mistake that got past a wire editor, then a section editor. It got past me. It got printed on a proof page. Then I looked at it on paper and that's when I finally saw the mistake.
Breaking down the sentence:
Subject: separating out the variables
Prepositional phrase: to job hunters concerned about earning power
Object of verb: which fields pay most
The writer inserted "and" because she thought that "which fields pay most" was part of the prepositional phrase — something job hunters are concerned about. Seeing it on paper and without the benefit of hearing the speaker's intonations, she didn't see that the speaker meant it as the object of the verb. The speaker meant that the act of separating "clarifies which fields pay most."
The mistake is the inserted "and."
The long prepositional phrase inserted after "clarifies" threw the writer and me and at least two other editors. So it just goes to show you ...
Well, I don't know what it goes to show you. But, whatever it is, I hope it made reading this worth your time.