Thanks for your interesting post. I, too, keep a doc of grammar errors collected from the New York Times. However, not all of the items you listed are errors. In fact, the NYT comes out of this looking pretty good! There's enough of interest here that I'd like to respond item by item.
During my struggle with GMAT SC, I realized that I was ignorant of many of the GMAT's grammar rules! I started scanning english articles of some reputable magazines and newspapers out there, and to my shock, I realized that they almost consistently violate GMAT's english rules! here are some examples.NY times
It’s a gift for moviegoers to have this much freedom, and exhilarating.
A concrete noun is made parallel to an action noun.
This is definitely a bit of style that wouldn't be allowed on the GMAT. Is it wrong? No, the author knows what they're doing, but this is a standard move. (Notice that I committed another "sin": the use of "they" to refer to a person whose gender I don't know. The GMAT doesn't allow this, but only because it is behind the times.)
All movies demand interpretation, but Mr. Carax doesn’t seem interested in your solving his puzzle, which allows you to solve it as you like. About all that’s clear is that Mr. Oscar works for an entity, perhaps God, which also makes this a movie about filmmaking and the ecstasy of creation.
bolded which modifies a whole phrase; a major sin from GMAT's point of view. "your solving" might also be considered awkward.
This definitely breaks a GMAT rule, but the actual rules concerning "which" are not nearly as strict as the GMAT would have us believe. My brother often complains about the "which/that rule," which has only recently come to prominence and is routinely broken by many authors of quality literature.
As for "your solving," that is 100% correct, both in real life and on the GMAT. True, most people don't speak this way, but that's another story. What isn't Mr. Carax interested in? Solving. Whose solving? Your solving. If they said "Mr. Carax isn't interested in you solving his puzzle," it might sound more natural to our ear, but it's not you
that he's uninterested in; it's your solving
That world is full of laughter, horror, rapture and eddies and swells of despair. It’s an episodic work of great visual invention — from scene to scene, you never see what’s coming — that reminds you just how drearily conventional many movies are.
that after the dash is not followed by a noun and vaguely refers the whole clause before it.
This, too, is 100% correct. The dashes here serve create a parenthetical. Ignore everything between the pair of dashes and you have a fine sentence: "It’s an episodic work of great visual invention that reminds you just how drearily conventional many movies are."
At a rally on Friday morning in Fairfax, Va., Mr. Obama found a way to encapsulate his campaign’s attack on Mr. Romney’s attempts to moderate some of his more conservative positions.
Possessive poison rule, his refers to a noun, Mr. Romney, although the noun is mentioned only in a possessive form.
You've got the possessive poison rule backwards. This rule (which is rather silly and is not often tested) prohibits our using a non
-possessive pronoun for a possessive antecedent. It doesn't work the other way around, and it certainly doesn't prevent us from using a possessive pronoun for a possessive antecedent, as is done here. (Notice how I used "prohibits our using"? Again, as with "your solving," this is correct.)
Allowed: I noticed Romney's attempts to moderate his positions.
Allowed: Romney attempted to moderate his positions.
Not allowed: Romney's attempts to moderate his positions earned him many additional votes. (Only the "him" here violates the rule. In any case, this is silly, as it's quite obvious in this case who "him" refers to.)Foreign policy
Alarmists about Afghanistan's future paint two likely scenarios: civil war, or the forceful return of the Taliban. Neither of these scenarios ring true.
Neither is a singular indefinite pronoun, ring is a plural verb!
You're right here. "Neither" is singular, so it should be "rings." "Rings" would be correct if we replaced "Neither" with "None."
But the Gallup polling firm apparently believes it's tracked down 80 politically uncommitted Long Islanders to compose the audience at tonight's town hall-style presidential debate, which will touch on a mix of foreign and domestic policy issues. All this raises the question: What's the foreign policy of undecided voters?
"this" is not followed by a noun, and vaguely refers to a whole sentence.
In real writing, the word "this" doesn't need to be followed by a noun. It's fine for it to refer back to an entire concept--in this case, the whole previous sentence (or perhaps more). The reason this doesn't work on GMAT SC is that you only work with one sentence at a time, so you're not likely to be faced with a situation in which "this" or "these" is used correctly without a clarifying noun. (Note that I correctly used the word "this" to refer back to the practice I mentioned in the previous sentence.) So keep applying this "rule" on the GMAT, in which extreme levels of clarity are demanded, but don't expect the rest of the world to play along.
Morsy's dangerous embrace of Iran is leading a surprising shift in favor support for Tehran, which has for decades been seen by Egyptians as their top threat, as well as for their work on nuclear weapons.
their, a plural pronoun, is supposed to refer to Tehran, a singular.
This sentence is a mess overall: "in favor support" is missing a word, and the last part ("as well as for . . .") doesn't really connect to the rest of the sentence. I looked it up, and it seems to be part of a larger quotation from an individual. This may explain the poor grammar.
McDonald's franchises and makeup counters, online education and the superrich who got us into this mess in the first place, might not seem like obvious beneficiaries of the crash, but at a time when the future still seems dangerously uncertain, these are the closest things out there to sure bets.
These is not followed by a noun. (this one is too common!)
Again, this is not an error in real life. That's why it's so common!
McDonald's understands the wellsprings of its success, which is why it has seen its stock rise more than 500 percent in the past decade.
which refers to whole clause.
Again, I agree here, but again, real-world views vary on this rule.
There are countless examples, giving me some relief that I am not alone in my utter ignorance; however, such mistakes are too common to be just careless mistakes by such professional editors. I'd like to ask the experts of this forum if there is any advanced, comprehensive reference for english grammar that I can use as a tie breaker here, as I'd like to go more in depth into this subject.
I wish I could recommend a comprehensive source, but the fact is that there is no one definitive rulebook for English. In many cases, experts disagree. It can be helpful to look up several articles on a given topic to get a better picture of the issue.