Usage and Grammar

Q. I’m writing an article for an academic journal. I frequently use the word “effectively,” as in “Effectively, US tax on those earnings could be deferred indefinitely.” I looked the word up in the dictionary, and it does mean something. But does it really add anything to a sentence like that above? Is there any style rule on this or a similar word? I’m thinking of just editing this word out everywhere it appears.

Q. What’s the difference, if any, between the words existing and preexisting? Isn’t the prefix pre- redundant?

Q. The assistant editor of my local newspaper wrote the following sentence in a column: “My parents had my little brother and I later in life.” I said I believe it should be “my brother and me.” She remains adamant that she is correct and referred me to your book. How is this possible?

Q. The author I’m editing has a fondness for making titles syntactic parts of his sentences, e.g., “the chapter on ‘Deconstructing Derrida’ takes up the challenge” and “a final essay too readily excoriating those figures she believes to be ‘Tolerating the Intolerable.’ ” Being confident that CMOS and other style manuals don’t approve of this practice, I’ve been recasting the offending sentences. Nonetheless, I’d like to be able to cite the relevant CMOS section (which I’m almost sure I’ve come across before) in a note to the author to bestow authority upon what may strike him as capricious and unnecessary changes. But for some reason, unfortunately (not, I hope, because I’ve simply dreamed up the idea that there’s a problem in these sorts of constructions), I can’t find that relevant section. Please tell me it exists and point me to it.

Q. “Any . . . is/are” again: If any of these records appears incomplete, report the patient’s name, date of birth. (My doctor asked me about that, from his medical dictation—my answer was “When you mean any one of then you can say is in dictating your notes.” I might have thought longer if I’d had my pants on. But that’s a common problem for copy editors, isn’t it?)

Q. I am wondering about the order of masculine and feminine nouns in a sentence. For example, is it correct to say, “Bring your daughters and sons to the event”? This seems awkward to me. It seems more appropriate to put the masculine first: “Bring your sons and daughters to the event.” Is this correct?

Q. I think this is correct: “We may recognize whether any of our friendships is truly spiritual.” My boss thinks it should be are: “whether any of our friendships are truly spiritual.” I can’t find a reference to this in the CMOS except that indefinite pronouns typically are treated as singular when followed by a verb.

Q. Is the word two in the phrase “two codirectors” redundant?

Q. Lie vs. lay —I’m just not getting it. I’ve read the Q&A submission about this and the recommended article. And I’m still not sure. Every time lie is used in an example it is always preceded by a person. I want to know if lie can also be used with objects, such as “The adhesive and plates lie flat under the roof shingles.”

Q. The author insists on using the word “aforementioned,” which I tell him is strictly lawyers’ jargon. He says that he will abide by CMOS’s arbitration.