This question, about the reasoning of an examiner, was closed as off-topic, apparently because people either thought the example sentence poor English (which it certainly is) or disagreed with the reasoning as identified. Both of these seem bad reasons to close. This is "English Language and Usage", not "Well-written English"; if all poorly-written examples are off-topic, I foresee a severe shortage of interesting questions. And the fact that the examiner's reasoning was flawed and his premises shaky does not make the question off-topic, any more than "why would my boss say this?" would be off-topic at Workplace.SE if the answer boiled down to 'Because he's an idiot'.

I don't actually think the question's worth re-opening, largely because Peter Shor's excellent answer has covered all the important points. But if the question had been closed before Peter got there, an important distinction between 'English you should write' and 'English that will pass tests' would not have been drawn, and a sensible, well-written question would not have been answered. Would anybody care to justify their closevotes?

  • 1
    I agree completely with KitFox and kiamlaluno here, so I don't see any need to post my own answer. I voted to close because it's totally Off Topic. I also question OP's judgement here, since I've certainly never heard anyone else say Ian McEwan writes "poor English". Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 5:07

2 Answers 2


I didn't close the question and hadn't seen it until your meta question just now.
I see nothing in the question that seems poorly written. In fact, I feel it is a well-posed and thoughtful question.

Reading through it, the first question I asked myself was "What does this have to do with English Language and Usage"? And my answer after re-reading it was "nothing." Therefore it is off-topic and it is justifiably closed as exactly that.

It might possibly be suitable for Writers.SE. I will check with the mods there and see what they think.

  • 2
    It's a Good Question about an incredibly Bad Question about literary criticism, which is off-topic. And Peter Shor's Excellent Answer was basically about the politics of testing, which is also off-topic. If Writers doesn't (?don't?) want it, Academia might. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 1:31
  • I hadn't thought of Academia. I'll ask them too.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 1:44
  • When English Language Learners - ELL has entered "beta", it might take that question. ("Test" and "learners" seem to fit to each other, don't they?)
    – Stephen
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 14:24

It is off-topic because there isn't a reason to choose a sentence, or another, for what English grammar, and usage are concerned. I would have said the second sentence is the correct one, but there is no reason for not putting the third one, one of the others, or a completely different one. ("But tomorrow is another day.")

If the exercise were to complete a way of saying, the question could have been on-topic, but probably too localized to be interesting to future readers. Too localized would have been my second choice for the closing reason also for the current question, but I would have chosen off-topic, if I had the time to vote to close it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .