Usage and Grammar

Q. Which is correct: “The population is estimated at over 5,000” or “estimated to be over 5,000”? Both drive me crazy!

Q. This sentence was in a script that I was given for a second round of edits: “The identifying information you provided is not valid for a new or an existing card member.” The an had been marked for deletion by the previous editor. I would have chosen to retain it because my understanding is that each adjective used in a series such as this should be accompanied by the article that would be correct if it were used alone. Which is correct?

Q. When writing a scholarly article, can you use the word that in this context? “It held [that] a nurse’s discretion is not authority exercised in the interest of the employer.” My question is whether that should be taken out, because it seems to be an extra word that is not needed.

Q. In the following sentence, should the word number have an s at the end? I think it is correct as it is; however, I was asked what the grammatical rule is for it, and I do not know that. Is there a rule? “As the number of pain patients grew, it became apparent that there was an unaddressed need in the area.”

Q. I don’t rely on spelling and grammar checks as the final authority, but my program is constantly scolding me for using passive voice. There are times, particularly when I’m editing a nonfiction manuscript, that a sentence just does not seem to work any other way and I allow the author’s words to stand. I’m more concerned with making certain the sentence flows well, makes a transition when needed, and has clarity for the reader. Is passive voice really all that bad? “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Q. When you use parentheses to indicate that a noun might be plural, is it necessary to use them to indicate that the verb might be plural as well? For example, The participant(s) was (were) informed of the procedure in writing. Is there a rule about this, or is it a stylistic choice? Am I justified in adding the second verb to an author’s manuscript?

Q. CMOS 5.250 says “media” is the plural of “medium” in re mass communications. Please advise if these sample adjectival constructions are wrong: public media archives, public media community, the new media landscape, public media practices, media companies, media platforms. Often a substitute noun would be singular: senior community, university practices, computer platforms.

Q. Is it really necessary to include “as” before “per”? For example, “Client has requested, as per original agreement, two hard copies of all reports.” Since “per” means “according to,” can’t we just delete the unnecessary (and wordy-looking) “as”? Thank you, great gurus, for your wisdom!

Q. I am having a disagreement with a fellow editor. I say either of these is fine: “It will assist you to identify the skills you already possess.” “It will assist you in identifying the skills you already possess.” She says the former is incorrect and the latter should be used. What’s the deal?

Q. I’m editing a translation of an ancient Chinese text, the Dao De Jing, which is largely concerned with describing the ideal “Daoist sage ruler.” The translator has chosen to use the generic masculine pronoun because in the historical context of the text, rulers were exclusively men. (For instance, “Of the best of all rulers, people will only know that he exists.”) I’m inclined to accept this argument, but should I be concerned about gender bias?