If someone were learning English, but didn’t know enough to ask in it, could they ask a question in their native tongue here? On Spanish, French, one of the Russian sites, etc. this is allowed, so how about here?

  • If you think about it, any answer in English would have to be then translated into the user's mother tongue. If a person cannot even manage to communicate the most basic elements, regardless of grammar, then they're unlikely to understand any answer written in English, especially an answer containing a lot of grammar terminology (or jargon), which occasionally happens.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 2, 2019 at 5:39
  • @Mari-LouA why I asked this is because on Spanish questions can be in English; I was curious if it worked like that here. It makes sense that it doesn't, because unlike there there isn't one other language that almost everyone on the Network speaks other than the thing people learn here, so it would be extremely, extremely unwieldy with stuff written Russian, German, Spanish, French, etc. Aug 2, 2019 at 14:22
  • because on Spanish questions can be in English Yes and that's because Stack Exchange is an American company, and English is mainly spoken there. Should Russian speakers post Spanish questions in Russian? Can you see how confusing it would be if everyone could post a language question in their native tongue?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 3, 2019 at 8:36
  • Maybe one day language barriers will cease to exist, and we will all be able to communicate using our native language without worrying about being misinterpreted, but until then, and especially on an English speaking site, users must write in English asking about English language questions or write in the same language as the specific non-English speaking site they are on, be it StackOverflow Japanese.SE, SO.Portuguese.SE, French.SE, SO.Spanish.SE etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 3, 2019 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


The short answer is “no”. There is more detail in this post on meta: Do posts have to be in English on Stack Exchange

If someone asks a question in a language other than English, they severely limit the people able to answer their question, and the number other learners who can benefit from it.

The community is happy to help learners improve their posts. We only ask that people write to the best of their ability, not that they be perfect.

  • Moreover, the likelihood of competent English speakers knowing that "foreign" language will be severely curtailed. Imagine if the native speaker was Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Slavic... the list goes on.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 2, 2019 at 5:35

If a question is asked in a language entirely other than English, that's grounds to vote to close it as "unclear what you're asking."

If it's obvious that English is not the person's native language, then allowances are made for mistakes in the English being used. Either it can be edited to correct obvious mistakes or the gist of the question can (hopefully) be understood well enough to have an answer provided.

Phrases in a foreign language are fine. Especially if the question is something like this:

In [some language] there is the saying [some foreign phrase]. It means [English description]. Is there an English equivalent?

  • 1
    However, the foreign phrase should be explained in detail so that people who don’t speak that language can understand it.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 2, 2019 at 11:32
  • Also keep in mind that many idiomatic expressions are intimately related to the culture of that language. For example, something like "the Goldilocks principle" would be more difficult to translate into a language where they've never read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears".
    – Andrew
    Aug 4, 2019 at 16:45
  • 2
    @Andrew - That analogy isn't too simple, and it isn't too complicated. It's just right.
    – J.R. Mod
    Aug 5, 2019 at 15:20

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