As noted in this four-year-old question, the tag (and also its misspelt cousin, , which I implicitly include here) is the fourth most used tag on ELU, and it seems to be overwhelmingly misused as a generic tag by new users who don’t understand how tagging works and just put in ‘grammar’ no matter what the question is about.

As noted in this slightly-less-than-four-year-old question, that basically makes the tag completely useless. Nohat’s answer in the first question makes a useful distinction:

  • is appropriate for questions about whether something is grammatical or not
  • is appropriate for more abstract questions about how various grammatical structures are defined and named, or how they function or differ from each other

There are, I suppose, a fair amount of questions that could meaningfully be put into the latter category; but the vast majority of questions currently tagged are either in the former category or belong to some completely different category.

JSBձոգչ’s question seems to have been quite positively received, but nothing appears to have come from it. My suggestion on how to help fix this tag abuse is a bit different from his, though:

Can we rename the tag to or ?

Hopefully if new users see no tag simply titled , they will try to find something a bit more descriptive.

  • 2
    Yes, I agree. However, we’d also have to blacklist it so it didn’t return.
    – tchrist Mod
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:15
  • Right, I'm thinking it will come back repeatedly as grammer.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Jan 29, 2015 at 14:27
  • 3
    There are 2443 questions where the [grammar] tag has been edited out as incorrect. There are almost certainly more where that should happen!
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:42
  • 1
    [grammatical-structure] is probably no better than [grammar] in terms of finding the tag and using it wrongly. How about [grammar-specification]?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 30, 2015 at 8:13
  • @Andrew That doesn't seem like a very descriptive tag name to me—I can't think of any circumstance where I'd ask a question and think to search for that. I do think grammatical-structure is quite a bit more specific than just grammar, and that someone who just wants the “question must have at least one tag” warning to go away would not be quite as likely to accept that as they would be with grammar—but I may be wrong, of course. Jan 30, 2015 at 10:36
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    [grammatical-structure] is more likely to be taken to refer to a sentence's grammatical structure and its correctness (that is, grammaticality). And that means that it will be misused.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 30, 2015 at 10:57
  • @Andrew Perhaps we should make a tag grammatically-correct as a synonym of grammaticality. Surely anyone who is asking about whether something is correct or not would be more likely to choose that than grammatical-structures? Jan 30, 2015 at 11:01
  • How about a syntax tag? Jan 30, 2015 at 14:36
  • [syntax] | [syntactic-analysis]. If we use [grammatical-structures] (which I see has already been created) then we will have to blacklist [grammatical-structure] to stop that being created and misused.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 31, 2015 at 10:19
  • 3
    Isn't the grammer tag supposed to be for questions about one's maternal grandparent(s)?
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 1, 2015 at 9:17

2 Answers 2


I'm open to this idea, and I'd like to know what the rest of the community thinks. I agree with tchrist's comment that renaming it won't make it go away. We'd have to blacklist it so that users didn't keep re-creating it.

I do want to mention that the tag has been helpful as a marker for new users who are likely to need early help. It's not the intended purpose of tags, but I do believe it has been useful for this purpose.

Finally, will it be useful to have all of the grammar tags renamed? If many or most of the posts tagged thus are incorrectly tagged, we should probably instead mount a cleanup effort.

  • 1
    I agree that a cleanup effort is needed—but I'd say in addition, not instead. Whatever we do, the cleanup effort is probably unavoidable; but if we also get rid of the misused tags, we can hopefully rid ourselves of a great part of future cleanups necessary. Jan 29, 2015 at 15:33
  • we won't need to blacklist it if we synonymise it. We just have to pick a good synonym. Jan 30, 2015 at 18:03
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    @Matt That won’t get to the root of the problem, though, which is that people (especially new users) think that ‘grammar’ just means ‘all the stuff about language that I don’t know’ and so use grammar as a default catch-all tag for just about anything under the sun. The only way to get around that is by making sure that there is no grammar tag at all that they can choose, and if we synonymise it, the tag will still show up and can still be misused; we’d just have a different tag we’d have to do major cleanup work on instead. Jan 30, 2015 at 18:33
  • @JanusBahsJacquet fair enough, I see your point. Jan 30, 2015 at 19:08
  • What if there were more specific tags such as 'grammar-nouns' or 'grammar-partsofspeech' or 'grammar-clauses'? Not sure how those would really be different from the more generic tags, though...
    – miltonaut
    Feb 2, 2015 at 1:12
  • @miltonaut: What about questions where someone is trying to figure out the name of a particular grammar, um, thing?
    – SamB
    Feb 10, 2015 at 0:08
  • After about two weeks, this post stands at 16 upvotes and one downvote; and this answer, supporting it, has four upvotes and no downvotes. What is the next step if this is to actually go through? (I haven’t done any tag-stuff before, really …) Feb 14, 2015 at 18:19

Not all grammar is about "structures" (though if you are a proponent of Minimalism then maybe that's not the case.) Grammar involves syntax, morphology, semantics - it's a broad part of linguistics and includes a lot of things, excepting phonetics and social linguistics.

I think the tag system proposed in this old question should be implemented instead.

  • But both syntax, morphology, semantics, and many other subsets of grammar already have their own tags, and questions that are really about those things should be tagged with those instead. Feb 6, 2015 at 14:17
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    “Grammar” is no more useful a tag than would be “language”.
    – tchrist Mod
    Feb 7, 2015 at 12:07
  • @tchrist That's why I linked to the old proposal, which says that 'grammar' should be gotten rid of. Feb 8, 2015 at 23:11

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