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I am a non-native speaker of English.

When I do not understand a word (because I have never seen it before for instance), I look it up in a dictionary. The dictionary will give me the meaning and hopefully everything will be clear.

I also face the case where I am not sure about the actual usage of a word. This is typically the case in What is the contemporary meaning of "consensual"?.

Since I understand, "dictionary-speaking", what this word means, I specifically ask about native speakers use this word today.

How can this not be "opinion-based"?

If such questions are out of scope - why is there the word "Usage" in the name of the site?

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    I think the opinion-based issue is mainly on your request : “Can it still be used for "in a way everyone agrees upon" without sounding weird?” – user 66974 Mar 4 at 17:24
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    Native speakers aren’t intrinsically qualified arbiters of how to properly use any particular word in all situations. Some people are less educated or have more limited vocabularies than others. Some words have different connotations in different idiolects. I think the way the question is framed causes people to focus on the wrong part of it. If your goal is to have a native speaker tell you what is ok, you have to measure the credibility of the person instead of the content; that’s the underlying reason why subjective questions are out of scope on a site where anonymous users provide answers. – ColleenV Mar 4 at 18:26
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    You’ve already had a number of presumably native speakers tell you it wasn’t the right word for that context. What do you hope to get from an answer to your question that you don’t have already? If you make it clearer how your usage question could be answered more objectively and with less reliance on personal credibility it might help prevent some close votes. – ColleenV Mar 4 at 18:39
  • @ColleenV: Native speakers aren’t intrinsically qualified arbiters of how to properly use any particular word in all situations → certainly but, as a French native and someone very much interested in French, I would be able to say if a construction makes sense, or is technically OK but, say, obsolete, or that it is OK. Of course someone else may have a different view but (at least in SE French), the people who care to answer are on the "knows French well" side :) – WoJ Mar 4 at 18:40
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    @ColleenV: You’ve already had a number of presumably native speakers tell you it wasn’t the right word for that context → I appreciate them very much. My point was not about the answers, but about the "closed because opinion-based" - in the context of a language site (and especially one that has "usage" in the name) – WoJ Mar 4 at 18:41
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    @WoJ How can you tell if a stranger on the Internet knows French well by just looking at their post? I don’t think I’ve made my pint very clearly because I’m typing on my phone in between tasks at work. (and my autocorrect hates me) Why weren’t the comments objecting to your usage enough? Why do you need an answer on ELU? Not criticizing you, just trying to help you see my point... – ColleenV Mar 4 at 18:42
  • @ColleenV How can you tell if a stranger would on the Internet knows French well by just looking at their post? → well, subjectively when I see a one line answer and a much more elaborate one I tend to follow the latter. This is obviously not bulletproof. As for the French site - what I meant is that the quality of the answers is usually very high (also because of the small traffic) – WoJ Mar 4 at 18:45
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    So there’s no objective way to tell. You assume more words means more accurate, which is not a good measure. Usage is a tricky topic to try to be objective about, because usage has a lot of variables to consider. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just that you have to focus usage questions more tightly. – ColleenV Mar 4 at 18:48
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    If you say “These people told me they think this usage sounds weird even though the dictionary says it’s ok, are they right? You are basically taking a vote to see how many people agree one way or the other. If you ask how you can avoid people misinterpreting your usage of consensual in a particular context, or specifically whether a meaning is archaic, you may get more useful answers. And I am giving up until I get home to where I have a keyboard. My phone is being impossible. Sorry for any mistakes I couldn’t fix in the 5 minutes for comments – ColleenV Mar 4 at 18:54
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    The problem that the OP is rightly pointing to is that excessive use of the 'opinion based' reason for closing tends to reduce this site to a place that simply repackages what can be found in dictionaries. Stack Exchange is, however, meant to be precisely a place where one can go to ask questions to which one can't find answers elsewhere. In the case of English Language and Usage, that should include asking questions about the nuances of use that are not captured in the standard dictionary entries. – jsw29 Mar 4 at 22:25
  • @jsw29 If the question asked about “nuances of use” instead of “do you native speakers think this sounds weird” it could have avoided the close votes. – ColleenV Mar 5 at 2:22
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    Face it -- we don't require people to say whether they're native speakers in this written forum (though accent would give everything away viva voce), and we don't require them to say what languages are spoken in their speech community, nor even what kind of speech community they have, if any. Many are students trying to get homework done, of which most start off with the wrong idea and then ramify it into strange dimensions, producing nonsense. We can't always correct the original mistake because nobody ever asks about that. "Opinion-based" is one euphemism for "too weird to bother with" – John Lawler Mar 5 at 16:52
  • I am glad that one of the most distinguished members of this community has finally made it explicit that '"Opinion-based" is [intended to be] one euphemism for "too weird to bother with"'. Euphemisms, however, work well only when both sides to the communication know that they are euphemisms. The problem here is that many people who come to this site cannot possibly know that opinion based is intended as a euphemism, and then, like the OP, suffer undeserved frustration trying to figure out how that applies to their questions. – jsw29 Mar 5 at 22:37
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    It doesn't really mean "too weird to bother with" but "too tedious to bother with": questions that would involve an endless list of caveats and conditions, piles of statistical data, various opinions and contradictory evidence, all concluding "well, maybe". One of the rules for good questions on Stack Exchange is that they're supposed to be generally applicable and have an answer that's useful to more than one person, hence over-specificity is a problem, especially if you're relying on volunteers to answer. – Stuart F Mar 8 at 13:59
  • Look, we don't want to hurt people's feelings, and we also don't want time wasted on questions that are questionable for being argumentative. Signals include opening a debate, many comments from the OP expanding the question or defending/negating every comment, and best of all displaying in the OP that no right answer exists. Entitled to your opinion on that leads to Opinion-Based Closing. – Yosef Baskin Mar 10 at 16:10

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