this is just out of curiosity, but I am wondering why my question here: How to say "She/He is my girlfriend/boyfriend" without the possessive "my" was closed?

Let me go through the FAQ for a little bit and give you my thoughts so you can point me towards the right direction so I can understand where I went wrong, thank you.

FAQ REVIEW: I believe my question fell under the 'Usage, word choice, and grammar category under the What kind of questions can I ask here? section.

Maybe where I went wrong could have been that the question seemed to fall under these two categories? Criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature, or Peeving about grammar disguised as a question is that possible? I hope it is not the latter if so.

Under the What kind of questions should I not ask here? Section of the FAQ

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

I think, at the time of posting, that this was a problem I faced, I was seeking for an alternative way to express a thought without attaching to it, what at the time, I perceived to be a negative social consequence. (I want to show respect.)

  • A moderator closed your question; I suggest posting a link to this meta question on your original question and tagging him so he sees it
    – user10893
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 20:59
  • @REGDWIGHT ѬS道 I don't think it needs to be so public as to be put on the original question, unless you think it will help others in the future? I'm not sure how linking works but I hope this works.
    – Mallow
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:03
  • Nope that didn't work, I don't know how
    – Mallow
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:07
  • 1
    @-references work only for who commented for the same post. @simchona works because simchona commented for this question, but it doesn't work if you use @Gnawme. The post's OP is always notified, and there is no need to use a @-reference for that.
    – apaderno
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


I think you answered your question when you said, "a negative social consequence."

Saying "my girlfriend," and using an equivalent phrase without using my are both grammatical; negative social consequences have nothing grammatical. If you want to know about them, then the question is not for EL&U, where the topic is English (as language) and its usage.

If the question were not closed as off-topic, it would have been closed for another reason, as it's a question where every answer is equally valid. As for what reported from the FAQ, those questions should not be asked on every Stack Exchange site.

  • 4
    Hmm I find the line between the two very complicated to understand, since language usage will affect social commentary by default. Can you expand on 'As for what reported from the FAQ, those questions should not be asked on every Stack Exchange site" what do you mean? Are you referring to this question, that this should not be asked on every Stack Exchange, or is this a statement meaning that the rules in the FAQ apply on all the sites of the exchange. I am not clear on what you mean in the last phrase.
    – Mallow
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 21:28
  • 3
    The FAQ part about question you should not ask is common for all the SE sites; it's not specific for EL&U. The FAQ part about the question you can ask is specific for EL&U.
    – apaderno
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 22:23
  • Thanks for the clarification
    – Mallow
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 22:26
  • A recent comment on this topic made me review this question. The reason you give for this question not being valid is in a nutshell: "the question is not for EL&U, where the topic is English (as language) and its usage." The question was "Is there a way to indicate that somebody is your girlfriend without using the possessive term my?" This seems, to me, a way to use the language in order to express an idea without leading to social confusing. Therefore although I thanked you for clarification I still very much disagree with this assessment.
    – Mallow
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 14:34
  • As you say social confusion, the question is not on-topic on EL&U, where the topic is English language. Actually, there is nothing confusing with my girlfriend, in the same way la mia ragazza ("my girlfriend") is not confusing in Italian.
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 22:48

Sorry for the late response, I didn't mean to overlook this. Flagging for mod attention was the right thing to do. Now let's cut to the chase.

I closed the question because it boils down to rewriting advice (⇒ off-topic, possibly on-topic over at Writers), based on a false premise to boot (⇒ not a real question).

That the premise is false is best demonstrated by the fact that the top and accepted (!) answer says just that.

The purpose of this site is not to provide a platform for rewording perfectly grammatical everyday constructions. Trying to come up with creative ways to say "red car" without using the word red because person X doesn't like it for reason Y makes for a fun bikeshedding question, but that's about it.

  • 4
    Personally, I'd like to see more questions closed by consensus (i.e., 5 votes), and fewer questions closed by moderators (with the possible exception of exact duplicates, which can be merged with other questions). Far too often, what one moderator deems "off-topic" seems interesting and relevant to many others in the community. If the question is really off-topic, the rest of the community should concur soon enough.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 23:27
  • @J.R. : In theory I would agree; but mods see many more questions than the rest of us, almost by definition. I would have closevoted this question in a shot (I don't see how it could possibly be on-topic), but I didn't log in over the right period to see it. Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 22:25
  • @TimLymington: Sure, the system worked for that question – but too many legitimate questions get closed, like the one about tourists (which I maintain was much in line with EL&U's faq - see my comment, or so-called "exact duplicates" that don't even answer the O.P.'s question, like this one. I aver that the system has an inherent design flaw; 10,000 pts don't make a user infallible.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:54

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