Is this site entirely for the purpose of picking the right words for sentences or passages, or are other things allowed?

I ask because I looked over the tour and the link I was shown about the scope of English as defined in the help centre and I found that it seemed like other topics are acceptable.

However, when I look at the questions, all the ones left open seem to be requests for word suggestions, or requests for understanding when a word is used (quite similar). Which is fine, but the comment on my first post seemed to be complaining that there were too many of this sort of post.

So I am thoughtful. Is there a desire to discuss advanced linguistic topics on this site or is it more for word choices for novels and blogs and things like that?

Either way is fine, just wanted to clarify what you would like me to do for you when posting questions or answers and when voting.

  • 2
    Your first question "Is this site entirely for the purpose of picking the right words for sentences or passages?" is pretty much what this site is not about. This isn't a writing advice site, or helping you remember some word that would fit in some poem. We occasionally get questions in that direction, but because they are so opinion based (what is right or best?), they should be avoided.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 22:03
  • At the risk of self-promotion, in response to your question of whether we welcome "advanced linguistic topics on this site", here's an answer I recently posted, which uses an academic paper from the linguistics dept of the U of Chicago as its primary source. As another example, here is a very technical question on English graphotactics. This is all in contrast to your earlier faux-linguistic analysis of "they're", which employed made-up words to justify usages universally considered errors.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


The site's scope is much wider than that. Other things that are on topic include linguistics, grammar, punctuation, syntax, etymology, pronunciation, spelling, and much more.

You may have correctly observed that there are a lot of single word requests and the like. That may be because those are popular, and they fit well into the Q&A format of Stack Exchange. But they are by no means the only thing this site is for.

Here is an example of a meta post discussing a more outside-the-box type of question that many agree would be on-topic here.

Regarding the comment you received: I feel that the user wasn't necessarily expressing a dislike of single word requests in general. Note that he used the word "inane", which means "lacking sense or meaning; silly." So, most likely the user was expressing a dislike of questions that he feels have that quality.

Now, I don't agree with that user that your question was senseless or silly. Maybe there was such a word, in which case you could have gotten a good answer. The way for you to find that out was to ask the question. Anyway, the user may have been tired of all the single word requests (many of them silly, maybe) and used a comment on your question to vent about it. He may even have meant it as an innocent joke.

To sum up, this site has quite a wide scope. Most questions about the English language, or its use, that are not too broad, trivial or opinion based are on-topic. When asking, try searching the site first to see if your question has been asked before. You could use Google for this. Just type something like your question into Google, and at the end add site:english.stackexchange.com If it's been asked before, then don't ask again. You can then instead vote, comment on (if requesting additional information) or answer the existing question.

  • Thank you Fiksdal. Your answer has been very helpful to me.
    – user180045
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 20:48
  • 1
    @BuddhaTheis Happy to hear that, you're welcome.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 20:52
  • It's not accurate to say that single word requests fit the format of Stack Exchange - they're just asked faster than they can be closed. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 10:24
  • Ah, well that is the unfortunate truth Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 12:06

The owners of this site have said numerous times that we need to enforce the same high standards on word request questions that apply to all types of question. Word request questions should be expert-level, particularly interesting, unique, and thought-provoking, and show effort and research into the question.

We get a lot of word requests, and the vast majority are out of scope. They suffer from various problems. Lack of research and lack of clarity about how the word will be used are very common. These are the "inane" word requests that the commenter was writing about.

But that doesn't mean there can't be a good word request, and we do see them occasionally.

  • Who are "the owners" that you refer to? This site's moderators? The meta community? Stack Exchange employees?
    – Cypher
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 20:41
  • Stack Exchange employees.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 20:41

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