Usage and Grammar

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?

Q. If Susan has a master’s degree in publishing, does Betty have master’s degrees in publishing and literature?

Q. Is there a good tutorial program for learning/studying The Chicago Manual of Style?

Q. I am currently editing chapters for eight engineers who are writing a technical book. Several use the style of writing that I call the “we” style, for example, “We should now add this code in the command line.” I am trying to direct them in the direction of talking to the reader using the “you” style, by rephrasing the same sentence to say, “You should add this code to your command line.” Or, even better “Add this code to your command line.” My problem is that some of them are balking at this tone and want to know what I’m basing this change on. I have tried to find some definite rules regarding this, but so far have not. Can you give me some references regarding this?

Q. If I am referring to the year 1900, do I say “at the turn of the nineteenth century” or “at the turn of the twentieth century”? Most of the writers I’ve edited use the latter, but I’ve always thought the former makes more sense, in that the nineteenth century is doing the actual “turning.” I’ve asked other editors and no one seems to know, so I’ve always edited around this.

Q. When asking someone “how are you”? Is it appropriate to use “I am good” in lieu of “I am well”?