Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | July 2016

Every month, the Chicago Manual of Style folks answer questions they’ve received. Following are a couple excerpts from the Q&A of July 2016. To read the full month’s Q&A, visit www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/latest.html.


Q. Our marketing people want to know which is correct: The buyer(s) purchase a policy or the buyer(s) purchases a policy.

A. Neither is correct. The optional plural doesn’t work as the subject of a sentence; it works only as an object: “The title, along with the name(s) of the editor(s), appears on page 3.” One solution is to spell out your meaning and make the verb agree with the nearer subject: The buyer or buyers purchase a policy.

Q. Is it okay to capitalize Modernist when speaking of the twentieth-century movement in English literature? Many sources favor the lowercase, but I’ve always done the opposite.

A. Either way is acceptable. Chicago style prefers the lowercase, but an editor should defer if possible to a writer who has reason to depart from style.

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