It seems to me that questions regarding word choice and sentence structure are both primarily opinion-based and generally do not have a single right or wrong answer. I'm curious as to why a question like this is considered acceptable:

How does one say to someone that he paid attention to something they said?

But this question is not: How do I handle a long sentence of examples?

Language, like any other art form is subjective by nature and it seems like with both of these questions, the OP is not interested in a definitive, objective truth but rather is looking for guidance to improve his/her writing.

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    IMO, the second one shows no attempt to resolve the issue. They seem to be asking for someone to do it for them. Additionally, the OP is very vague in his/her request for help. I agree with the closure. The first shows at least an attempt to research and poses a question that the reader can pin point. I don't think it has anything to do with the topic of the question, but the effort and clarity.
    – Hank
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 19:12
  • @Noah The second question was always bad; I made an attempt to improve it, but obviously it wasn't good enough. It is true that even the rewritten question admits of a number of equally-valid answers. As such, it's quite a good example of a plausible question which is actually off-topic because it's not objectively answerable. It's still a bad-subjective question rather than a good-subjective question. (And no, that wasn't my intention)
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


About the linked first question:

There can be different solutions to the same problem. We accept word-requests, but conditions apply:

Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered.

I don't think the question is a good example for a word-request, but technically it still can be answered by idiomatic expressions.

See a list of top-voted word-request questions, to learn more.

About the linked second question:

Questions about sentence structure are welcome, but it is not a question about sentence structure. It's a request for proofreading, or to break down the sentences and add proper punctuation. These are not welcome on Stack Exchange.

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

And under that question, choster rightly commented:

This is not a writers workshop, and we cannot offer writing advice; among other things, there is no independently verifiable method of saying one technique is superior to another in a given circumstance, which goes against the Stack Exchange model.

See a list of top-voted questions about sentence structure, to learn more.

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    Your explanation is lucid and should satisfy OP why the Q was closed, but since OP seems to assume that 'sentence structure questions' are automatically off-topic, I think you might also state in your answer whether/ under what circumstances 'sentence structure requests' are on-topic at EL&U. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 21:23
  • @EnglishStudent Thanks. You can add an answer addressing that part. I'm too tired to continue.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 0:18
  • Thanks for the answer @NVZ. I didn't mean to defend the question. To be honest, I think they're both pretty bad. I just didn't understand why one was accepted and the other wasn't. I guess it's because the first shows some amount of research prior to posting and the second is just a request for proofreading. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 0:57
  • @NVZ in fact I don't know that part of the answer! So OP and I will wait till later for you to give a full explanation at your convenience. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 1:01
  • Hope that improves it. Suggestions welcome.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 5:30
  • @NVZ It is much better now but I would add something even more specific like "you are mistaken to think that 'sentence structure questions' are off-topic. In fact questions about sentence structure are on-topic at ELU provided it is not a proofreading question, and addresses some specific problem experienced with respect to construction of the sentence -- you should also include details of the research you have already done to find a solution before bringing the problem to ELU." PL. NOTE that we're being so explicit here because OP thought that sentence structure questions are off-topic. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 12:16
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    From OP's perspective, answer is fine. OP gets the point. :-) Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:07

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