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Can I ask about the grammatical mistakes in a paragraph?

For example, I have written an IELTS Task. Is it ok to ask for the correction?

migrated from ell.stackexchange.com Sep 11 '18 at 15:53

This question came from our site for speakers of other languages learning English.

  • Hi Jass, I’ve moved your question over to meta, which is where we talk about how ELL works, among other topics. – ColleenV Sep 11 '18 at 15:55
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Yes and no.

You cannot paste a paragraph you have written, and ask the community to identify the mistakes. That is called "proofreading", and it is expressly off-topic.

So, you could not ask a question like this:

Checking for errors in paragraph

Are there any grammatical mistakes in the following?

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, and the cat ran away with the silver spoon. The little pup laughed to see such sport while Jack ate a plum in the corner.

Incidentally, why are such questions closed? Essentially, such open-ended questions demand a lot of help from the user community for an answer that pretty much only helps the person asking the question. Were such questions allowed, we would likely be inundated with drafts of resumes, love letters, work memos, and entrance exam essays. What a dreary place this would become.

You can, however, ask about specific questions about what you have written. For example, you could ask a question like this one:

Proper use of the term 'run away with'

I am writing an essay as an IELTS task, and I have questions about way I've used the term run away in this context:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, and the cat ran away with the silver spoon. The little pup laughed to see such sport while Jack ate a plum in the corner.

I want to say that the cat and the spoon ran away together (each running separately); however, I think the sentence reads like the cat is running away while carrying the spoon.

I know that spoons don't normally run away, but this spoon is an enchanted spoon that has the ability to run, like this, for example:

enter image description here

Is there any way I can rewrite this phrase to make it less ambiguous?


Here are some general tips for asking questions:

  • Be specific
  • Be detailed
  • Be clear about what you are asking
  • Context matters, so tell us where you found the text you are asking us to examine. (Did you find it in a book? A news article? A tweet? A lyric? Or did you write it yourself?)
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The help center topic "What topics can I ask about here?" explains that

Proofreading (for example, "Are there any mistakes?" or "Is this correct?"), unless a source of concern is clearly specified

So, you can ask about specific concerns that you have with a a paragraph that you've written, but you should ask about one thing per question. It's OK to have multiple questions about the same paragraph. There is some advice for writing questions in the Details, Please post and some additional help in the help center article How do I ask a good question?.

  • It's important to be specific, for example don't ask "Is this correct?". Ask "Is it correct to use "on" here, or should I use "in"?".

  • Tell us what you already know, so we don't waste time repeating it. For example, "I know that "this" means "that", but I don't know if it is correct to use it after "this other thing"."

  • Try to think about how the answer to your question could help someone else. Much of the reason proofreading isn't allowed is because it only helps one person. Our goal is to have a "library of detailed answers to every question about learning the English language". Try to make your question general enough that someone with the same question could find it in a search.

There is more discussion about "proofreading" questions in Stop throwing “Proofreading” close reason at questions that are clearly limited to a single point of concern that might also give you more insight.

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proofreading from stackexchange -help - on-topic

"Please don’t ask any questions about the following topics. They are out of scope for this site:

Proofreading (for example, "Are there any mistakes?" or "Is this correct?"), unless a source of concern is clearly specified".

See the part about proofreading. Proofreading questions are generally not allowed.

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