Based on the recent question:

Let's change the canonical question about forming possessives for words which end in 'z' [Completed]

and its predecessor:

Please change the canonical 'ordinal question' to one which is more informative

I'm wondering: is there a list of FAQs and/or canonical posts, for ease of reference when closing as duplicate?

If there is such a list, please close this question as a dupe of that question (I'll delete it after).

If there is no such list, let's use this thread to create one.

Answers to this question should be of the form "Here's the canonical question on X", where canonical means "all future questions in X not sufficiently differentiated in their details should be closed as duplicates of that".

  • Do you intend ultimately to turn this list into a main site FAQ tag?
    – MetaEd
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:47
  • @MetaEd I'm not really familiar with the main-site FAQ tag, but doesn't that have to be curated by mods? Or is there a way for the community to curate it? Sincerely, I've never used it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:56
  • I don't know the answer. Right now I believe there isn't one. I think your question is a good argument for creating one, but being the "new guy" I could also be quite wrong.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:57
  • A quick search suggests that on StackExchange, "FAQs" are about the operation of the site (Meta stuff, like "what is close-voting"), and canonical posts are the kinds of things collected in this thread. There was a suggestion on Meta to support a [canonical] tag, but it was stillborn. Other sites, e.g. GIS, maintain Meta-questions collecting canonical posts, so I'm currently thinking this question is the way to go.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 19:02
  • Super User on the other hand does do it with a tag: superuser.com/questions/tagged/community-faq
    – MetaEd
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 20:33
  • @MetaEd I thought "Meta tags" like "homework" or "community FAQ" were verboten. Anyway, I checked Math.se, and they also keep MetaQ with a list. Though I'm now thinking I'll have to use the key of a Q as an index to organize the answers.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 20:47
  • Apparently they are, except when they're not.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 20:52
  • 3
    @MetaEd I’ve always considered the ELU Frequent Questions list to be our secret FAQ, the one nobody knows about.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 0:40
  • @tchrist That looks like front page to me. I can't see what the organizing principle is.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 0:48
  • 1
    @DanBron It's sorted by the dup count.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 0:57
  • 1
    We should link to this question from the blog or some other easily-accessible place such as the help pages.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 13:13

20 Answers 20


Basic questions on differences in tenses and aspects in English

How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another?

  • I think the list of answers is getting pretty long. Perhaps we should consolidate them into a smaller number of answers on broader topics (like "choosing X over Y" or "tenses", or whatever)? We could also change the Q to be an index to the As.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 16:39
  • @DanBron I agree it is too long. That's what I was worried about when I started to post the answers here. But this really helps me to find duplicates. I think the answers should be put together under some categories such as tense / verb agreement / noun (pronoun) / possessive, etc... Let me think about it and try to merge some answers.
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 16:43
  • sounds good. It's probably better to use the questions which are upvoted and not posted by me as the containers for categories, because I can delete any answer I posted, and upvoted answers will be more visible (and harder to delete).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 16:45

General neutral pronouns

  • Can I use the "singular they"?
  • What is a gender-neutral way to refer to a single individual?

Is there a correct gender-neutral singular pronoun ("his" vs. "her" vs. "their")?


Ordering adjectives

  • Is it great green dragon or green great dragon?

What is the rule for adjective order?


Writing compound nouns

  • Should I write "nounnoun", "noun-noun" or "noun noun"?

When should compound words be written as one word, with hyphens, or with spaces?


Forming possessives

  • How do we form a possessive for a word which ends in an s?
  • How about a z?
  • What if it's a surname?

Possessive form for a surname ending with "z"

  • Giant Ostrich Bomb's (GOB) fuse or Giant Ostrich Bomb (GOB)'s fuse?
  • Pendleton, et al. (2002)’s research

How do I correctly use the possessive apostrophe with a parenthetical citation?
Where should the apostrophe go on a possessive abbreviation?


Compound possessives incorporating the first person

"My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner"

Also upvoted, but now marked as duplicates of the first:

How do you make the possessive form with "He and I"-style subjects?
What possessive forms are used for mutual 1st person ownership?


Difference between verb + preposition and phrasal verbs

For example: look for something vs look something up (something).

Difference between verb+preposition and phrasal verbs


How many spaces after a period?

  • Should I use one space or two after a period?
  • Is it ok to use just one space after a period?

How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?

  • I'm all for this to be a canonical question, but arguably it should be a closed canonical question. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 23:51
  • 1
    @curiousdannii Go ahead and VtC. I got this one by going to the list of Qs and sorting by votes....
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 23:59

When should I use a vs an?

When should I use "a" vs "an"?


Singular or plural agreement with collective nouns

  • The team is here or The team are here?

Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular?

Where coupled with a dummy subject, see

"There is/are more than one". What's the difference?
"There are no shortage of applications"


When to use Present Continuous (Progressive) for future actions?

When do I use Present Continuous for near future instead of “be going to”?


Using do for emphasis / Why do you use "do" before another verb?

Do-support for emphasis

“did shoot” vs “shot”


"If I were" vs "If I was"

When do you use "were" after if and which is correct between "were" and "was"?

“If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct?


Gerund vs. infinitive for verb complements

  • My favorite pastime is to cook vs. My favorite pastime is cooking
  • Try to rotate your knee vs. Try rotating your knee

When should a verb be followed by a gerund instead of an infinitive?


When should I use a hyphen vs en-dash vs em-dash?

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?


Forming questions to elicit ordinal numbers as a response

  • How do I ask a question about Abraham Lincoln's position in the sequence of US presidents to elicit sixteenth or 16th as a response?

Framing a question whose answer is an ordinal number

  • The meta community chose a different canonical question here (including you it seems, by Mari-Lou A's thanking of you!): meta.english.stackexchange.com/q/6934/59258 Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 23:54
  • @curiousdannii Thanks. I thought I picked up the right Q from that thread, I did go looking for it... anyway, all the answers here are community wiki for a reason. The community part is sincere, I mean it. If I got any of these wrong today, or the answers change tomorrow, you and everyone else should feel entitled, fearlessly entitled, to edit them yourselves.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 0:00
  • Sure thing, I will edit away if I see any more! Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 0:02

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