I have a question about my English Language & Usage Stack Exchange post, What's the difference between backward(s) and backwardly?

Why was my question closed and why are the mods refusing to reopen? I cannot find anything wrong with the question. In fact, I have a linked question that was well-received and not closed. Moreover, I believe I have included more than enough "research" and the answer is neither immediately obvious, nor easily answered with "commonly-available references". For the close votes, it only says "Not suitable for this site", which I believe is a cop-out.

I have asked about the differences and usage between two adverbs ("backwards" [UK]/"backward" [US] vs "backwardly") and the question was closed, while a question about a similar but distinct case was not ("backwards" vs "backward").

  • 2
    It is now reopened.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


I'll weigh in here, because I haven't had anything to do with the question so far. Others who were involved can give an answer if I've missed anything.

Your original question was tidied up with ten minutes, and it was

Difference between backwards, backward, and backwardly

What is the difference between "backwards"/"backward" and "backwardly"? They're all adverbs, but I feel like there's some sort of difference in their meanings and uses.

There is a minimum requirement of research, which you have attempted to meet by including links to a couple of dictionaries.

Unfortunately you haven't included the bits of the definition which might answer the question but don't, nor have you explained why the dictionary definitions are unhelpful to you.

You then added links to a similar question which does not mention backwardly: that's fine, you're asking about backwardly and that question doesn't help.

However, you then added

Since "backwards" and "backward" are the same and just different variants (UK and US, respectively), I mainly would like to know their difference with "backwardly", which is a word that I have never used, but apparently it is a word, according to Cambridge Dictionary.

OK, it's word which is defined by Cambridge. You need to add your research to the question and explain why it doesn't help. You should not expect others in the community to look up the definition and guess which part doesn't help. In fact the closure message has a link to a question about research which has a checklist upon which each point is expanded:

  1. State what you're asking about first
  2. Never just link. Always quote with attribution.
  3. Use simple language. Assume all your readers are from Missouri

So far, you have fallen foul of point 2. As that question says (edited for this context),

By doing this, you are showing that the meaning of backwardly isn't easily answered by referring to standard works. You have already done that search and you have shown what you found. You state how you have attempted to deal with what you found, and you explain what the problem is: you can't actually find a definition which appears to differentiate backwardly from other similar forms.

However, the reference to the "Show-Me State" is also relevant: you need to demonstrate that nothing you have found has helped.

In addition to all that, Laurel has commented "Why was this deleted off ELL and reposted here?" I can't see deleted questions on ELL, and I can't find an account for you there either; but it's bad form to re-post somewhere else questions which [almost certainly] had a bad reception on a site, especially if the question is not improved the second time round. You appear to have done this before, as I commented on another post, "This question would (in my view, and another moderator's) be better on English Language Learners, but they rejected it for lack of research, and three reviewers [on ELU] have voted to keep the question closed." You now have three negatively-scored questions, and risk triggering The Algorithm which restricts the ability to ask further questions without improving your existing posts.

  • 4
    But if the OP had copied and pasted the dictionary entries, the question would have been cluttered and overly long; the focus of the question would be lost, rather than made clearer. It is fairly obvious from the question as it is that it concerns the nuances that cannot be discerned from the entries in readily available dictionaries (at least not without some analysis and explanation).
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 15:51
  • But those nuances (or what the particular difficulty is) needs to be explained.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 16:01
  • For the record, the ELL post didn't really have any reception — a comment was the only interaction there. (Slow day?) But since the post was the same as the first revision of the question here, it's likely it would have attracted negative votes.
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 16:44
  • 2
    Since there were no answers, I didn't even get the usual notification not to delete. Why would deleting the question be bad? Upon further reflection, I came to the conclusion that the question would better be posted at ELU instead of ELL, since it is about subtle nuances and of a rarely used word, which I came to realize are unlikely to be the concern of English learners. Moreover, I decided to delete from ELL because I thought it would be better than posting a duplicate. So, I assure you that it was made in good faith. Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    Sorry, but this is just silly. The difference is grammatical and not semantic. You're not going to find the answer in a dictionary. There's a problem that OP cannot put their finger on. They have had a good stab. Seeing as none of the others who seems to find this question too beginnerly are able to answer it, maybe you or Laurel could? (Bet you can't. It's too difficult!) Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 0:07
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. I vaguely remember my secondary school English teacher mentioning the difference between -wards and -ward, so I could probably dig something out; you're probably better equipped. The question is open; write an answer. My answer here is to the question asked here: the question on Main was not a good question.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 7:46

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