The tagline for this site is

English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English

WendiKidd, in an answer to Why is “non-native speakers” part of the by-line for ELL? --by the way, this is not really part of the byline, it is the byline-- reaffirms:

I think that being a site for non-native speakers learning English is the point of our existence,

If this is true then why are native speakers here?

And let's not argue about the meaning of for. I think every native speaker knows what that means in this context.

  • 2
    Isn't it obvious?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 15, 2016 at 5:43
  • 2
    I'm trying to figure out what you're thinking about. Why does "for NN speakers" rule out native speakers?
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 15, 2016 at 9:45
  • 1
    @Ϻ.Λ.Ʀ. First, it would be helpful if you had a user name that I could ping without having to change from mobile to full site. More importantly, see my comment. For in a tagline describes who the site is for, it's that simple. If native speakers are welcome as valued or even integral members, then it is confusing or weird or plain misrepresentative of who this community is for.
    – GoDucks
    Jan 15, 2016 at 17:00
  • 5
    @Ϻ.Λ.Ʀ. I have to agree with GoDucks on one thing - your nick is really annoying on the mobile site which doesn't suggest user names when you put in @.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 15, 2016 at 19:17
  • 7
    As a native speaker I understand for to designate the people whom the site is intended to benefit. On a forum that would be the participants, but on a Q&A site it's the questioners. Jan 15, 2016 at 20:10

5 Answers 5


I'm a native speaker, and I'm here to learn.

Learn in two major areas, in fact: first, there's a surprising amount about English itself that I only know intuitively, or even not at all.

But the original and main reason I joined was to learn to be more effective at teaching English. And what better way than to do it?

(It's also nice to do my bit in organizing English knowledge and helping various people with their problems, of course.)

  • 6
    I'm upvoting this mainly because your first sentence also covers about half of the reason I'm here. But what I am mostly curious about is What aspects of English do nns tend to find problematic? Not that I have any particular need or desire to teach English (outside of what I do on ELL, and to a much lesser extent, ELU) - I just find it interesting to see what kind of things fox people who didn't grow up speaking English (which I think is probably the most "advanced" language on earth today, albeit the chequered history makes it often inconsistent). Jan 18, 2016 at 19:25

EL&U: English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

ELL: English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English.

The two taglines don't seem to properly represent what has been going on on both EL&U and ELL. Many questions on EL&U are just cr** (Low Quality Questions) and some good questions on ELL seem to belong to EL&U. There is a grey area where distinction is not clear enough between EL&U and ELL.

I don't think the ELL's tagline necessarily means this community is exclusively for non-native speakers, especially in terms of answering questions. As Varun KN mentioned, native speakers could add value that non-native speakers sometimes can't and it is a great advantage to have dedicated native speakers who can check and balance any errors or mistakes that could be made by non-native speakers.

I think most of the native speakers on ELL are helpful and sincere in terms of helping non-native speakers and learners.

I am not perfect in my native language, nor am I in English. The important thing is I learn new things every day. There are new neologisms, expressions and idioms while there are some words that are slowly fading away.

Native English speakers can never be right always and non-native speakers can never be wrong always. I have seen many occasions where native and non-native speakers corrected each other's mistakes and grammatical points. That's the beauty of this community.

  • 4
    In the Help Center it says "English Language Learners Stack Exchange is for people who are learning or teaching English as a foreign language." Tag lines aren't supposed to say everything there is to say about something. I do agree that there is always something more to learn about a subject as complex as English.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 15, 2016 at 14:46

Native speakers can help us (non-Native speakers) learn the language better. They can correct our mistakes because English comes naturally to them. Its better to correct our mistakes as we learn rather than to attempt correcting it later, which is highly unlikely to happen. As they say,

"If you want to learn something, learn from the experts."

There are a few people who wants to claim glory and feed their ego by being reminded that there are people who are below par at something he may have an extended knowledge on. But as far as I've seen, ELL has no users with that motive. There are people who constantly criticize my posts and I'm glad they do that because they often point out my mistakes and I can say that I learn English more and more everyday thanks to them. I rather have my mistakes corrected by a native speaker because they simply are the best at it. This is a Question Answer based website, and there are people who are expected to give the answers and moderate what the non-native speakers contribute to the development of the language of their fellow non-native speakers. So yes, even if the tagline says "for non-native learners of the language", I strongly recommend the active participation of the natives, as they are here solely to help us learn the language and to clear our doubts.

  • 2
    I hope you don't mind a non-native speaker commenting on your post as I did several times. :-)
    – user24743
    Jan 15, 2016 at 7:28
  • 4
    No issues, I've found most of your comments to be very helpful. Mistakes should be corrected before they mislead another reader. Be it native speakers or non-native speakers, all of us tends to help out each other. That's the best thing about ELL !
    – Varun Nair
    Jan 15, 2016 at 7:32
  • 3
    @VarunKN - I'm glad you see that correcting mistakes is intended to be a helpful thing, not a rude thing.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 10:09

So one of your comments gave me a better understanding of why you're asking - you see the tag line as exclusionary, and you may have a point from a semantics perspective.

Let's compare the description from the tour to other sites:

English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English.

English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site about the workplace and other career-related topics. It is for members of the workforce to get answers ...

Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Law Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for legal professionals, students, and others with experience or interest in law.

It's pretty boilerplate across sites. Almost every SE site ends that description with "It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about (topic)".

The ELL description could use some additions to describe our "enthusiasts" and our EFL teachers, but I think most folks don't take these descriptions as a complete and final list of who should participate on a site. How would an unemployed job seeker ask questions about interviewing at Workplace.SE (which is on-topic) if the site is only for workforce members?

When I'm thinking about getting involved with an on-line community, the first thing I do is lurk for a little while and watch to see what kinds of things go on, and what the community standards are. If you do that, I think it's obvious what kinds of folks "belong" in our community and it has nothing to do with which language you speak natively.

In my opinion, our target audience is people who want to learn more and help others learn more about practical English. We're really just a big study group :)

  • Yes you got my point about the language of the tag line.
    – GoDucks
    Jan 20, 2016 at 3:37

I was active on ELU for quite awhile, even before ELL was conceived.

As I look back on some of my ELU answers now, I realize: even then, many of those answers were really helping English learners (like when I earned a Good Answer badge for explaining the difference between sitting on a chair vs. sitting in a chair, for example.)

I'm an educator by vocation and calling, not a linguist or etymologist. Now that there are two Stack Exchange sites devoted to English, I feel more at home in the one where I can explain those seemingly basic nuances of our language (like prepositions and definite articles) to those who can so aptly show us how complex and vexing they really can be.

As for this sentiment:

a site for non-native speakers learning English

I think what's implied is:

a site for native speakers to help non-native speakers learning English

Without the natives sharing their expertise, this site couldn't be as useful to the learner.

  • 3
    I agree but I'd say that the implication that only native speakers are helping non-native speakers isn't quite right. There are lots of non-native speakers who are still able to help and improve their own English at the same time.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 15:48
  • 4
    @Catija - Nothing in my answer is meant to imply that non-native speakers aren't pitching in and helping out. (Heck, one of them serves as a fellow moderator!) But thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify that. Not only are some non-natives sharing what they've learned, many of them come up with some very solid answers.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 15:53
  • 1
    I know that you don't think that, it's just the phrasing "a site for native speakers to help non-native speakers learning English"... can sort of imply that only natives are helping.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Catija - Well, I do think that if all the native regulars disappeared, and ELL became a site where only non-natives helped non-natives, the site's reliability and usefulness would diminish, and perhaps quite drastically. Still, though, I appreciate your comments. You're right that my wording could be misinterpreted, so I appreciate the opportunity to clarify.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 15:57
  • Given the tag line of ELL I'm not sure I'm in the correct place. I mean a Meetup Group that is for lovers of crochet and needlework would not be my cup of tea. A group for Australian expatriates living in my city might not mind if I hung around, but I doubt I would ever be considered an emblematic or even highly sought after member. Thus, the tag line of ELL confuses me and frankly feels and reads exclusionary.
    – GoDucks
    Jan 15, 2016 at 16:48
  • 1
    @GoDucks - I've seen your work; you've left a lot of helpful answers. ELL needs helpful and insightful folks like you. If you've got a suggested edit for the tagline to make it sound more welcoming and less exclusionary, I'm all ears.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jan 15, 2016 at 19:53
  • 2
    What @Catija said. I think it's fair to say many nns are often better equipped to help out other nns. Since they were in the same position as the OP (before they learned some aspect of usage), they may be more able to present information in a way which is accessible to others in that position. I think much of my role is simply to constantly reassert the oft-forgotten fact that native speakers often don't use English strictly in accordance with what the grammar books (and ESL teachers) say we should do. Jan 18, 2016 at 19:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .