I unilaterally reopened a question today. Here's my paraphrase of the original question:
In this phrase, which preposition(s) would be correct:
Put the pen ..................... the book?
I'm considering over, above, on, upon, and up.
The post was closed without a comment; the reason given was "entirely answerable with a dictionary."
Put yourself in the shoes of a novice English speaker. I think most people here would agree that prepositions can be very tricky. Obviously, this O.P. has enough knowledge to know that all five of these prepositions can be used to indicate a spatial relationship: one object on top, the other on the bottom. The O.P. is requesting clarification of how these words would be used – and we send the O.P. to a dictionary? C'mon, folks. We can do better than that. Shame!
Let's start with Macmillan's definitions of over. There are 18 of them. Meanings #1 and #2 read:
1 above someone/something
2 on someone or something and covering them
Already the meanings of these words are entangled. To compound matters, the word up has 16 meanings, the first is:
in or towards a higher position
That sounds a lot like over and above to me.
A pen that is on a book is also above the book. That's a fact.
This community was created to cater to learners with questions that may be simple for the native speaker, but vexing for the learner. In this case, an O.P. finds ELL, joins, asks one question – and sees it promptly closed, sans a helpful comment, only to be directed to a book that gives enough meanings of these words to make anyone's head spin.
To be candid, I was disgusted and embarrassed.
Here is my request: Before you vote to close a question:
a) put yourself in the shoes of a learner, and ask if the question is a fair question
b) have some leniency toward newer members of the community; leave some comments to help them learn how to contribute in meaningful ways
Save your dictionary close votes for questions that are indeed answerable with a dictionary, such as:
What does algebra mean? I saw the word but I don't know what it means.
Remember, there's a difference between asking for the definition of a word, and asking for the nuances of related prepositions to be explained.
Stop pretending this is ELU, and remember our target audience.
NOTE: Special thanks to Tyler James Young and 200_success, who elected to touch up the question with some formatting improvements instead of voting to close it.