To avoid any misconception about this site and English Language and Usage, I propose to edit the "What topics can I ask about here?" page to this:

Basic Word choice and usage
Basic Grammar
Basic Dialect differences
Basic Spelling and punctuation
Practical problems you encounter while learning English

What do you think?

  • 4
    The questions learners have aren't always basic. They're often quite difficult! Nonetheless, many of these difficult questions would never be asked by a native speaker and belong here on ELL.
    – user230
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:50
  • so what about not using "basic" at the beginning, but instead using "of non-native speaker" at the end?
    – Ooker
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:59
  • I'm not sure what this would accomplish, especially since what one would consider "basic" is subjective. Are we "stealing" questions from ELU? The help says very clearly English Language Learners Stack Exchange is for people who are learning or teaching English as a foreign language.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:32
  • 1
    Related: meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/14/…
    – ColleenV
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:43
  • @ColleenV: I have already read that question. That's why I ask this one.
    – Ooker
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:44
  • I guess I don't understand why this is an issue. Are questions incorrectly being diverted from ELU to ELL?
    – ColleenV
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:48
  • No. I just want to make new comers getting which site is suitable for his/her questions as easy as possible without the need to search for those related questions.
    – Ooker
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:54
  • @Ooker If the user considers themselves a language learner, then they'll probably ask here. If not, they'll be migrated. Also, we're quite good at migrating questions away when they're unsuitable for us, and rejecting incorrect migrations: i.imgur.com/uVHhDxS.png
    – jimsug
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:43
  • 2
    The whole notion of basic and advanced being used to characterize the two sites has been considered, and most don't like the idea because the two terms are prone to misinterpretation.
    – J.R. Mod
    Oct 27, 2014 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


The two sites have very different missions which are stated directly above the list of topics, so anyone who is taking the time to read the help topic you are proposing to change should see them.

What topics can I ask about here? (English Language Learners)
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is for people who are learning or teaching English as a foreign language.

What topics can I ask about here? (English Language and Usage)
The English Language and Usage Stack Exchange is for linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts.

I don't think that excluding "advanced" questions from ELL will help someone distinguish the difference between the two sites when the sentence above the topic list makes it clear which site a person should post their question to.

If you want an answer from a linguist or etymologist because you're very interested in the English language (regardless of whether it is your native language), or your question is about etymology, you would ask on ELU. If you are learning or teaching English as a second language and would like a layman's answer1, you would ask on ELL.

The ELU help topic does direct some folks to ELL:

In addition, if you are new to learning English, please consider whether your question might be better suited for English Language Learners.

1 Some community members may in fact be professionals, but the type of answer they might give here would probably be more focused on the practical aspects of the usage than the answer they might offer on ELU

  • Not sure whether the answers here are less technical (and whether they're appropriate anyway), since many readers ask questions that are steeped in technical language.
    – jimsug
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:49
  • @jimsug Yeah, technical isn't the exact word I want, and neither is less detailed. An answer for a non native speaker might be phrased with fewer linguistic or etymological terms, where a similar question on ELU might take some forays down more abstract paths.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:55
  • 2
    @ColleenV Actually, I think you'll find that there's a lot higher proportion of formal grammar on ELL than ELU. Partly that's because NNSs generally know more formal grammar than NSs (in fact, many know more formal grammar than most US high school teachers!); partly it's because you can help an NS understand a grammatical point by referring to good and faulty examples, which the NNS lacks the experience to distinguish; partly it's because we're fairly eager here to provide learners generalizable principles. Oct 27, 2014 at 23:46
  • @StoneyB - Formal grammar isn't exactly the sense of what I wanted to convey either. Sorry, something is spewing pollen down here in Texas and my allergies are making me a little slow :) I wanted to convey the sense that the answers on EU might be more focused on the esoteric and the answers here would be more focused on the practical (like rules that can be generalized).
    – ColleenV
    Oct 28, 2014 at 0:01
  • 1
    Clear as mud. Mostly how I view it is that ELU is for more technical questions while ELL is for more "how to natives actually talk" questions. But that's not really how people use it either. Often questions get tossed from one to the other with no discernible pattern.
    – JamieB
    Sep 9, 2016 at 18:56

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