Usage and Grammar

Q. If I were to address multiple friends, would it be more appropriate to begin with “Does any of y’all . . .” or “Do any of y’all . . .”? I would have thought the former was correct because “any” could be singular (as in “any one of my interlocutors”), but my partner thinks the latter is correct. I’m willing to be wrong, but I want to know why! Can CMOS weigh in?

Q. In the following sentence, I would rather omit all but the first article to make the sentence more concise: “It can be a professor, a boss, an adviser, or a coach.” But can I do this even though an “a” would not be used before “adviser”? In other words, would “a professor, boss, adviser, or coach” be correct?

Q. In compound sentences, should the verb tenses match?

Q. I searched in vain for guidance about the use of the word “early” in expressions like “in the early twentieth century.” What is the maximum number of years (five, ten, twenty-five) that would still make sense? Could we consider this to mean “in the first quarter of the twentieth century”?

Q. How would you style the past tense of “green-light”—“green-lighted” or “greenlit”?

Q. With a compound subject, does the verb number change when the conjunction “and” is replaced by “and then”? For example: “Swimming in the ocean and then running a marathon require/requires great endurance.” I’m told CMOS 5.138 applies and the verb should be plural (“require”). But it seems to me “and then” has combined the two actions into a sequence (as one) which would take the singular “requires.”

Q. Often lately, in drafts I’m editing as well as in emails from colleagues, I’ve seen “below” as an adjective—for instance, “the below example.” This looks and sounds wrong to me. To my further dismay, I just noticed it in an example in my agency’s writing guidance (which I’m partly responsible for updating). CMOS 5.250 doesn’t address this matter, but when I searched the Manual for “the below,” there were no results. Merriam-Webster lists “below” as an adjective and shows it being used before a noun (“the below list”)—but I’ve been told Merriam-Webster presents common usage rather than good usage. The American Heritage Dictionary, which I understand is more prescriptive, lists “below” only as an adverb or preposition. Before I do battle about “below” in our writing guidance, I’d like to know your opinion. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Q. CMOS 5.195 says that “compare with” is for literal comparisons and “compare to” for poetic or metaphorical comparisons. What is a “literal comparison,” and how does it compare with a “poetic or metaphorical comparison”?

Q. Is the term “log in to” or “log into” when a user is connecting to a computer?

Q. Should it be “Nobody but she and Sandra knew if he was lying” or “Nobody but her and Sandra knew if he was lying”? Surely, nobody but the Chicago Q&A will know which is correct—or if neither is!