I wanted to post on english.SE to get suggestions for a word (I've pasted my real question at the bottom of this post), but the question is related to writing a story. So I went to writers.SE, but their rules advise against asking for word suggestions. Would a question like the one below work on english.SE, or does such a question just not fit in the SE world? Thanks!

The question I'd like to post (edit: I've changed the question below from its original; perhaps it is closer to a good SE-style question?)


I have this sentence: After catching his breath, he commands them, "Don't worry guys, problem solved."

But he's not commanding them. I can't think of a word. He's not exactly imploring. "Says to them" is too generic, and "reassures them" is too specific about his intention.

  • 3
    You're right, 'commands' is terrible here. How about 'he tells them'?
    – Mitch
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:08
  • 2
    What is on -topic at writers.SE? Anyway, questions like actual suggestions seem to never be on-topic on any SE site because they are presumably 'Primarily Opinion Based'. There are probably other sites that aren't so rule based. Or maybe try chat?
    – Mitch
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:09
  • 1
    @Mitch Thanks. I'm not sure what writers.SE is about. The questions I see there seem like opinion questions. I think I've figured out a way to reformulate the question so it will work on english.SE. Thanks again. Jan 24, 2017 at 16:12
  • I would use "advises" for a middle-of-the-road effect, "counsels" for a hoity-toitier tone, or "informs" for a cooler neutrality.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 24, 2017 at 19:50
  • 2
    I think a simple "he says" works just fine there.
    – Hellion
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:14
  • 2
    reassures seems like the obvious answer.
    – mrr
    Feb 3, 2017 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


This is a type of question which is on-topic on ELU, "What's a word or phrase for...?" and we even have a tag for it: , along with its counterpart .


It's very important to follow the tag advice when asking the question. Many people doubt that these questions are a good fit, in that they are simply a look-up service. It's also easy to be lax in your specification of what you really need, which results in a large number of answers; many of those answers will be a waste of effort because they don't answer what you actually wanted (but failed to ask for).

The community has become more strict on requiring

  • that the [ -request] tag be used, or added where the question author hasn't already;
  • that the tag guidelines be followed.

A particular requirement which is often missed is a sample sentence, or the particular nuance of meaning required. This is actually missing in your suggested question; you've said what is not required — which is good information and should certainly be stated — but you haven't actually described what your word is attempting to relay.

Thinking about the details of what you actually want your word to say can often lead you to use just the right word in the question. That's fine: if you realise you have it, we've actually helped.

Because tag guidelines are amended periodically, there's not much point in quoting them here, especially when they are easily available from a link: Word requests | Phrase requests — phrase requests are very similar to word requests.

In particular, the checklist at the bottom of each guide is very important. Help the community to help you by being as specific as possible in your question.

To address your specific example, when you are considering what the man is doing, you might plaintively write, "...he's simply telling them something." And that gives you your word, tells. If it doesn't work for you, add that to the "not suited" list and say why it doesn't work.

  • I found a way to formulate my question better, but I posted it to english.SE rather than ELU. Rats. Jan 24, 2017 at 17:09
  • Also, thank you! Jan 24, 2017 at 17:09
  • 3
    Er, English.SE is ELU. The URL is english., but the title is English Language and Usage.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 24, 2017 at 17:10
  • And, I'm not convinced that your reformulated question follows this advice. Do have a look at the checklist. It is very important.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 24, 2017 at 17:13
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    Thanks, I just now did, and I see what you mean. Sorry, I'll fix it -- at least as well as I can. Hard to specify the exact conditions that would lead me to accept a word. But I'll try. Jan 24, 2017 at 17:17
  • He announces the good news, "Don't worry guys, problem solved." Jan 26, 2017 at 19:36

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