Seeing as we're discussing potential revisions to the close questions, I thought I'd raise a pet hate of mine: questions asking for a grammaticality judgement which don't explain where they got the idea that their sentence might be ungrammatical. Sometimes that source might be right, sometimes it might be wrong, sometimes the OP might have misunderstood it, but without knowing what it is there's little potential for a good question.

Here are some recent examples I've seen:

And some punctuation ones:

Could it be required that if you want to ask for a grammaticality judgement that you provide a link, reference or quote to someone suggesting that it is not grammatical? I think this should be a specific type of research effort we expect for these kinds of questions.

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    (Thinking aloud) But if I'm at the beginning of learning a foreign language, how do I know that my questions are "baseless"? How do I know which websites/reference/link will tell me that my phrase is ungrammatical? E.g., in Italian io sono amato di te could you tell me if it's grammatical or not? Try and find a link that upholds your claim. You might suggest more idiomatic expressions are preferred, but for a learner this can be equally frustrating. P.S Not my down-vote.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 19, 2014 at 8:57
  • Sorry, I should have explained more. By 'baseless' I mean that they haven't provided any basis for thinking that it might be ungrammatical. In almost every case there will be one, which is what I'd like them to provide. Some may be good, some may be bad, but if it's provided then there's the potential for a good question. (And sometimes that may have misunderstood whatever they got the idea from, which is something we could never know without knowing where the idea came from.) Nov 19, 2014 at 9:00
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    But if you're suggesting that questions where the OP didn't get the idea from anywhere else and is just asking whether a random string of words is grammatical or not, then I think we definitely don't want those sorts of questions. But I hardly ever see those ones, and the ones I see all look like they got the idea from someone else first. Nov 19, 2014 at 9:04
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    I think this is a specific case of "Needs more research" or "Needs more information" close reason, which is under discussion.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Nov 19, 2014 at 13:04
  • If that close reason does get added I'd like this to be considered as a potential associated policy for it. Nov 19, 2014 at 13:31
  • 'Required'? Sure it's annoying, but you can always just ask for clarification.
    – Mitch
    Nov 19, 2014 at 16:12
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    Yes Mitch, that's a perfectly civil solution. I found many of the questions listed by the OP very interesting, or fertile ground for discussions of grammaticality; but I'm dismayed when I see kneejerk responses like "of course it's grammatical" (or something to that effect) with no explanation. There's so much attention paid to "bad" questions and so little to bad responses. Many responders completely fail to provide evidence (beyond the anecdotal), and I feel that clutters the site more than such questions.
    – Rusty Tuba
    Nov 19, 2014 at 20:30
  • @Mitch the point of a policy would be that when we ask, if they don't provide, then there would be clear grounds to close the questions. Nov 20, 2014 at 0:57
  • Downvoters: If you think it would be unhelpful to require an explanation can you please explain why? Nov 21, 2014 at 5:12
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    It would be nice if we could do this, but I don't see how it could be enforced reasonably. At best it would merely result in more closed questions. A much more pressing problem, imo, is that posters rarely give any useful information about (a) whether they're native English speakers, (b) what languages they normally speak and/or where they live, (c) whether they're students, and if so, at what level. This information would vastly improve my answers, anyway -- the stunning multidimensional spectra of language knowledge, mythology, and ignorance on display here prohibit really clear answers. May 6, 2015 at 14:11
  • Wow, still so many down votes without explanation :( May 9, 2015 at 3:20
  • @Nicole please don't try to "fix" my non-AmEng spelling. It's fine how it is. May 9, 2015 at 3:24
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    I didn't know Brits spelled it that way. I've never seen it written like that.
    – Nicole
    May 9, 2015 at 21:42
  • At this point, I think your sentiment, which I agree with, is taken care of by the first close reason ('needs more research') It's not literally in there but is implied. I still think that 'required' is way too strong though. Surely declaring the source of a question is highly 'recommended' to help with context.
    – Mitch
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:36
  • @Mitch Yeah it's basically covered with the first close reason now. Jun 9, 2015 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


We actually do occasionally close questions for this reason: "based on a faulty presupposition".

But in the end, it doesn't matter how they acquired the faulty presupposition, does it? We all walk around with such presuppositions in our heads. They ask a question, and we do or do not correct their faulty presupposition.

It seems rather odd on a Q&A site - especially one about language, something few native speakers study - to require people to share why they think the way they do. Before finding this site, I had a lot of strange notions about language as well (probably still do), and I was raised bilingually, which means I didn't give much thought to not only two languages, but to how or why they differed as much as they do.

  • I think now that pretty much all of these questions are ones which I would comment with "this site is not a substitute for English lessons or practising with a friend". We can close them all for lack of research. May 9, 2015 at 3:22

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