I'm a native American English speaker and have recently moved to England. Obviously there are a lot of differences of vocabulary, and most are easy enough to figure out with a dictionary, but expressions tend to be the most difficult to figure out the nuances of. I can get about 10 different answers of from 10 different people about the precise meaning. Would questions about the meanings of British English expressions be acceptable on ELL?

I looked at How do I determine whether a question fits on English Language & Usage or on English Language Learners? and still wasn't sure.

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    I think that learning a new dialect could fall under the umbrella of learning English.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jun 25, 2015 at 8:56
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    I'm much more active on ELU than here on ELL, and I won't tell you have to post such questions there, but I will say we certainly would welcome them, and get many questions along these lines. Today we got a native AmE speaker asking a question about when BrE speakers use the singular vs the plural for collective nouns ("Real Madrid are winning" or "Real Madrid is winning"?). The main criterion, IMO, for deciding to post on ELL vs ELU is: would a native speaker of English find this question interesting?
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 25, 2015 at 14:17
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    @Dan - I was with you until your litmus question. ELL shouldn't be where all the dull questions go, and I find many ELL questions fascinating in their own way, like this one. I think it's more a matter of: How do I want my question analyzed? If average native speakers have enough expertise to answer a question just based on their fluency, then ELL is a good place to ask. If you want more emphasis on the technical aspects of English, (i.e., if you want John Lawler to explain modal perfective constructions), then ELU is a better place to ask.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jun 26, 2015 at 20:19
  • @J.R. The "litmus question" is an example of where rational and well-meaning native speakers disagree - because it's contrasting two dialects. It's essentially asking for the rules governing when BrE speakers use "are" for corporate bodies (because AmE systematically use is). I found it interesting (well, technically, I found the answers to the question it was marked as a duplicate of interesting!). I do find the detailed and explicit answers the experts on ELL post to language choices I make unconsciously. Very interestsing!
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 27, 2015 at 1:32
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    @Dan - By "litmus question", I was referring to this, in your comment: would a native speaker of English find this question interesting?. I don't think that's a good criterion for deciding to post on ELL vs ELU (at least, that's not the way I'd word it).
    – J.R. Mod
    Jun 27, 2015 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


As J.R. says, such questions would be perfectly acceptable here, provided they're not the sort of thing that can be answered by simply consulting a dictionary.

However, I believe they would be just as acceptable on ELU; and since you are a native speaker, I suspect that you would get more appropriate answers there. Here answers often must explicitly formalize 'rules' and go into considerable syntactic detail which you don't need.

Poke around in the answers to questions like yours on both sites, and post your questions where you think you'll get the answers you need.


I would say it was acceptable.

The main criterion for a good question is one that helps people learn the English language. It doesn't matter what the questioner's native language is.

Idioms and expressions are just as much a part of any language as the vocabulary and the grammar.

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