Someone has suggested that a question of mine should be migrated to the ELL site.

Why are there two Q&A sites for the English language?

What can I ask on each site?

Note: ELU refers to English Language & Usage; ELL refers to English Language Learners.


1 Answer 1


ELU is a site intended for "serious linguists." Over time, many non-native speakers stumbled across ELU, and would ask questions that native speakers considered very basic. This caused mixed feelings: on one hand, as the board became flooded with more and more basic and trivial questions, some users got discouraged or bored. On the other hand, no one really wanted to tell these English language learners, who were asking legitimate questions for a non-native speaker, that their questions were either not valid or not welcome.

The proposed solution was to create a new community where English learners could ask their questions without fear of those questions being deemed too basic.

A few key points:

  • Basic Stack Exchange standards are supposed to apply at both sites. O.P.s are expected to research their questions, and not be overly broad. ELL is not a dumping ground for bad questions.

  • Your question won't get second-class treatment at ELL. Many of the language enthusiasts frequent both sites, and answer questions at both locations.

  • Just because someone recommends that you ask your question at ELL, that doesn't mean they want you to "scram" from ELU. Such recommendations are directed at particular questions, not particular users. You're welcome to peruse and participate in both communities.

I would say that, in general, if English is not your first language, and a native speaker is likely to find your question very basic, as opposed to particularly perplexing, then you're probably better off asking your question at ELL.

Welcome to both communities.

  • 22
    This is a capital answer: the best formulation I have yet seen. Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 5:14
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    Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Randomly select 10 each of open and closed questions on ELU. Exclude duplicates and migrants. Now do the same for ELL. On each of your 4 lists of 10 questions, ask yourself, “Would (or should) this question have the same open–close status if it were on the other site?” Possible answers are yes, no, and dunno/maybe. Are the answers obvious, suggesting a clear/clean separation of missions, or are they not?
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 13:55
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    @tchrist: I don't have time to conduct that experiment at the moment, but, in general, I think it's easier to spot a question on ELU that would be a better fit on ELL than the other way around. What makes a question a better candidate for ELL than ELU? That may be hard to define in a nutshell, but I know it when I see it.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 15:39
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    +1 for '[the difference in sites] applies to particular questions, not particular users'. Maybe that could be part of (either) faq; it is certainly an important part of the debate. Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 23:07
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    @Tim: I've sensed that some folks have already been put off by a recommendation to go to ELL, mistakingly assuming that they had been admonished to run along. Thanks for seconding the notion that such interpretations would be inaccurate.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 23:24
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    +1 for such precise and straight forward answer. Shouldn't this be somewhere in the FAQ? Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 18:44
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    @tchrist's comment raises an interesting question. If ELU questions are closed for being too basic, are ELL questions ever closed for being too advanced? Or to put it differently - if all the deservedly open questions on ELU were asked on ELL, would they be on-topic there as well? If not, can you give an example of something that wouldn't be countenanced at ELL, but that would be fine on ELU?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 7:35
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    @Lawrence: Anything about etymology that doesn't immediately serve as a mnemonic for spelling or meaning is highly likely to get closed on ELL. Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 4:35
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    I had no idea ELL existed until now. And I have been asking basic questions at ELU all this time. Now I feel bad. Maybe ELU should make it more clear that it is intended for more advanced discussions.
    – kiewic
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 16:41
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    I have found that "serious linguists" has to be taken with more than a grain of salt. Also, if it's for serious linguists as opposed to armchair linguists, why does not have to find other authorities to back up what one says. Some questions might require that but by no means do all of them.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 14:53

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