Chicago Style Workout 81: Rule or Canard?

A cartoon cat peers over the top of a table as a mouse runs by, the background empty except for a framed drawing of a fish skeleton

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Most writers and editors know that it’s OK to (occasionally and judiciously) split an infinitive. We also know that, barring a more graceful alternative, a sentence-ending preposition is nothing to get upset about. But just because those old canards have lost most of their power to persuade doesn’t mean there aren’t others being needlessly followed or enforced.

Can you tell the difference between a CMOS recommendation and an impostor? Put your knowledge of Chicago style to the test by taking the quiz.

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in the answers). (We also offer a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online.)

Note: Style guides sometimes disagree. The answers in this quiz rely on the information in the 17th edition of CMOS.

Chicago Style Workout 81: Rule or Canard?

1. Edited prose shouldn’t include contractions.
2. The passive voice should always be replaced by the active voice.
3. Avoid beginning a sentence with and or but.
4. Don’t start a sentence with a numeral.
5. Don’t add etc. to the end of a list introduced by e.g.
6. Don’t use back-to-back parentheses.
7. Don’t use literally when you mean figuratively.
8. There are fewer items, not less, because items can be counted.
9. If something is unique, it can’t properly be said to be more unique or very unique.
10. Don’t use till to mean until.


Cartoon of cat and mouse by zsooofija / Adobe Stock.

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3 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 81: Rule or Canard?

  1. “Occasionally and judiciously” split an infinitive? How about “whenever and as often as you want”, provided there isn’t an obviously better alternative. Since the whole split infinitive rule was based on the entirely irrelevant misapplication of a Latin grammar rule to English, is there any reason to minimize split infinitives now that we understand the history of that fake rule?

  2. “Can you tell the difference between a CMOS recommendation and an imposter?” Just curious, does CMOS prefer the spelling “imposter” over “impostor”? I thought it was the latter because “impostor” is listed first in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    • Per CMOS 7.1, we usually go with the first-listed entry in Merriam-Webster. Clearly our editors flew right past “imposter” without realizing that it was (ahem) an “impostor.” We’ve now fixed our error. Thanks for your comment—and for your sharp editorial eye!

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