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There have been discussions in the past about whether questions about grammar belong here:

These are just two examples, but the general consensus was that the tag should be removed, because grammar questions are off-topic here. This is the gist of the accepted and most popular answers.

But since then, nothing seems to have happened.

I'm inclined to agree with the assessment that grammar doesn't belong here - my argument is that not only do we have other, better-fitting SE sites for that, but we also all use different grammar rules. This is an international site, and not all writers on here are writing in English.

However, the tag is actually quite popular. There are over 100 questions tagged with it, and I've noticed that many of them are not actually about grammar, but about breaking grammar rules. So maybe the tag has a reason for existing here nonetheless, since writers are always burdened by grammar rules.

Should we finally remove the tag, as was agreed upon some years ago, or should we edit it to make it useful?

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    The tag is popular, and has multiple on-topic questions. In light of this, seems strange to remove it. Maybe tweak the tag wiki so English Language & Usage questions don't come here? – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jun 28 at 22:06
  • Well, it's debatable which ones are actually on-topic. I'd say anything dealing with English grammar should have been closed. But generally I agree. – PoorYorick Jun 28 at 22:43
  • I doubt anyone actually wants to break grammar rules - any such questions are really about breaking stylistic rules, and should be rephrased to say as such. And it's never too late to close questions. – curiousdannii Jun 29 at 6:23
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is a solid tag that should stay.

Your examples are from 2010 and 2011! This is just as the stack was getting off the ground. The tag (most tags) hadn't found its footing yet.

Currently it has 113 questions. While I haven't gone through to check that they're all reasonable, or to see what percentage are open, that's a pretty substantial question count for a tag, especially one where there is not a question of overlapping tags.

On a quick look, a lot of the questions are about how to properly write dialogue, which is on-topic for Writing.SE. Others are about grammatical issues in narrative (also on-topic).

This isn't like merging and or figuring out how to fix the fact that there are 3 tags that all mean voice. is a standalone tag. It's not a top tag, but it's a good, solid one. And one with the ability to give people tag badges (since it's over 100 questions). No one has earned one yet, but 3 people are reasonably close.

This is the sort of tag that people would create if it wasn't there. It covers an important part of the writing process. While many questions about grammar might be off-topic and/or better suited for English.SE, the fact remains that belongs on Writing and needs to stay.

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    I agree that the tag should stay. But currently the tag wiki suggest an off-topic use case. We need to update it and clarify what makes a writing.se grammar question as apposed to a english.se one. I unfortunately don't have a suggest for where to start for that. – linksassin Jul 5 at 0:24
  • I didn't ask the question in order to find consensus for removing the tag, as I hope is clear from my original post. But I don't think you have engaged with my arguments. English grammar should not be a topic on this forum. The questions using the tag should be valid in all languages. – PoorYorick Jul 5 at 12:26
  • @PoorYorick Yes, I didn't address all of your arguments, because I wanted to focus on your first question, should the tag be removed. My opinion is no. So I focused on that as a way of judging community opinion on that particular bit. I think we all agree the wiki is insufficient. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 5 at 17:02
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    @PoorYorick To address another point you made separately, so it doesn't get lost... "The questions using the tag should be valid in all languages." I disagree strongly. We often have punctuation, formatting, or sometimes style questions that do not apply to all languages. Nor should they; we'd never be able to ask anything on those topics. There is no grammar rule that applies to all languages (except for "use good grammar") so it's a round about way of removing the tag. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 5 at 17:05
  • @linksassin and others... I also remembered the wiki referring to English but I looked it up and it just says: "Questions about the rules of grammar, and how to properly apply them to writing." It is a different tag that has that ref. Honestly, I think that's fine, because people know what grammar is, even if they don't know how to use it. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 5 at 17:10
  • It's fine to have style/formatting questions that are more relevant for specific languages than others, because style & formatting are purely about writing and there's no other SE for it. If you have a grammar question that's only relevant in English, you have to have a good argument as to why it isn't on English.SE. I can't imagine these questions that belong here instead of there while only being relevant in English. What I can imagine is a grammar tag that deals mostly with abstract questions about grammar as a writing tool, which would be relevant in all languages. – PoorYorick Jul 5 at 21:06
  • @PoorYorick We have plenty of on topic questions that are relevant just in the United States. Legal and copyright questions, for example, are very country-specific. While language and country aren't the same thing, the effect is similar. And then the punctuation questions that are not only just about English, but just about American or just British English. Also on topic (not always, but in many cases). Why are you holding grammar to a higher standard for universality? – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 5 at 21:30
  • Because we have English.SE for it. Just like worldbuilding questions are off-topic due to Worldbuilding.SE, despite actually being very important for writing. The saving grace of grammar questions that are universal is that they are not governed by English.SE. – PoorYorick Jul 6 at 22:09
  • @PoorYorick as Monica often tells us, just because something is on topic for another stack, or even a better fit for another stack, does not make it off topic here. Grammar as it relates to writing is on topic for Writing.SE. Even if some on topic questions also belong on English.SE and/or are better there. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 6 at 22:41
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Background

I picked the first 50 questions with the tag .

  • 8 out of 50 (16%) are about writing as a craft, and likely in scope.
  • 32 out of 50, i.e. most of them, are about language standards in English, hence out of scope.
  • 4 were of dubious attribution to "grammar".
  • 6 out of 50 have been closed or migrated

With the exception of the closed/migrated ones, all these questions have been accepted, answered, and considered valid by the community, in spite of the rule stated in PoorYorick's answer.

Proposal: remove the tag, enforce the rules

Most of the questions about the craft are actually about . In fact, breaking a grammar rule to fit one's taste is most likely a matter of style. Not knowing a grammar rule is likely a matter for ELL.SE, and the corresponding questions should be migrated en masse.


Questions about the craft

  1. How to handle characters who are more educated than the author?
  2. Using a grammatically incorrect tense for stylistic effect
  3. What are the chances that agents or publishers will accept my manuscript if there are some grammatical errors in it?
  4. Are creative writers all granted implicit immunity from grammar rules?
  5. Knowing when to disobey the advice of grammar software
  6. Writing a letter from the future
  7. What is it called when poets changing grammar rules?
  8. What do sentences look like in a rough draft before they are combined into a cumulative sentence?

Questions about standards in the English language

  1. When should the dialogue reference be written, before or after the dialogue? ,
  2. What tense to use for events that are still happening?
  3. Grammar of, in dialogue, someone quickly negating a previous word?
  4. Using a possessive pronoun before using its antecedent in a poem
  5. Replacing adverbs
  6. Should I change from past to present tense to state a fact that continues into the present and is unyielding?
  7. How can I learn about syntax from the point of view of a poet?
  8. When is it okay to say the word “now” in a past tense story?
  9. How to indicate that the source language is gender-neutral?
  10. Punctuation when using inline dialogue
  11. Can I assign actions to broad concepts?
  12. Do I have to capitalize ESP in sci fi fiction sentences?
  13. Capitlization of A Named Experiment
  14. Should the name of a mythological creature be capitalized?
  15. How can I improve my sentence construction or flow in general writing?
  16. Properly punctuate a quote
  17. No Contractions
  18. Should I capitalise the first letter of a title that an unnamed character has?
  19. Do you have to write in the tone of ordinary speech?
  20. Capitalization after use of colon?
  21. What's the best way to add a break in conversation?
  22. Trudy said - or - said Trudy?
  23. Would I use a capitalization for vampire?
  24. Is this featured article wrong about passive voice?
  25. Present tense or Future tense (When writing articles or technical guides)
  26. Is it wrong to use the same word multiple times within a few sentences?
  27. Using in' rather than ing in third person omniscient
  28. How can I improve my grammar?[tag:creative-writing grammar]
  29. Reasons for confusion over tenses in a story
  30. Referencing the present while using the past tense
  31. Where can I correct my works for grammar mistakes?
  32. Active voice in situations where the subject is unknown

Questions that may not be about grammar per se

  1. Crowdsource feedback for research articles
  2. Should I start a new paragraph after a dialogue if the action is being taken by a new person?
  3. When quoting, must I also copy hyphens used to divide words that continue on the next line?
  4. How can I state what is written on a sign?

Migrated or closed questions

  1. Phrasing: “the only of its kind” vs “the only one of its kind” [migrated]
  2. Is there a prefix for 'old'? [closed]
  3. Clarifying English Writing Conventions [closed]
  4. Is this line in a song/poem grammatically correct: “But oh how the love, it still wrecks me every time.”? [closed]
  5. Dialogue Writing and Word Repetition [closed]
  6. Where can i correct my work for clarity and grammar issues? [closed]
  • Agree with everything, but getting the community to enforce a rule that (percentage-wise) goes against the common usage isn't going to be easy. – wetcircuit Jul 8 at 12:34
  • Cool, a scientific investigation! :D But I'm not sure. For example, "Present tense or Future tense (When writing articles or technical guides)" to me is a perfect "grammar question" for Writing.SE. It's not really about grammar, because both cases are grammatically correct; it is about how grammar should be applied in this specific situation to make a good, readable document. In my opinion that question is more on-topic here than in English.SE. – PoorYorick Jul 8 at 14:21
  • @pooryorick it is a grammar question, but specific about English. I'll play devil's advocate here and say that not all languages are as limited as English in the available tenses, or in their grammatical forms. For instance for the question that you mentioned I believe that the correct answer in Latin would be a construct with gerundive (not sure about Latin-derived languages, though). – NofP Jul 8 at 16:06
  • IMHO a technical writing tag would be sufficient, as the question is about writing style. Usage of grammar was not truly the question. – NofP Jul 8 at 16:12
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We should keep the tag, but edit its tag info/wiki to clarify which grammar questions are on-topic.

We currently allow some grammar questions here, but others have been migrated to English.SE, or simply closed as being off-topic. It seems inconsistent and is confusing to new users. Especially so if there is a tag that seems to confirm that grammar questions are on-topic here.

The help center currently says this about grammar questions:

On the other hand, these kinds of questions aren't allowed here: [...]

  • The strictly interpreted correctness of English grammar or syntax rules (please ask those on English Language & Usage, instead).

Now compare this with the current tag info of :

Questions about the rules of grammar, and how to properly apply them to writing.

So according to the tag info, questions about grammar are fine. The "properly" even indicates that questions about the "strictly interpreted correctness" of the grammar would be on-topic as well. (By the way, has this tag info or the wiki changed recently? I remember it being even more liberal.)

I suggest to change the excerpt to this:

Questions about the use of grammar in writing. In-depth questions about the grammar rules of a specific language are off-topic.

In the wiki, it could be clarified what this means exactly. This is my suggestion (but feel free to edit this if you think you can improve upon it):

This tag should be used for questions that deal with grammar in a writing context. As mentioned in the help center, questions about the strict interpretation of grammar rules of English (or of another language) are off-topic here, and should be asked on the appropriate Stack Exchange, such as English Language & Usage.

On-topic grammar questions for the Writing Stack Exchange are less concerned with the correct use of grammar, but more with the impact it has on the piece of writing. Examples are:

  • Questions about breaking grammar rules, for example in an experimental novel.
  • Questions about improving the flow of a narrative by using or avoiding certain grammar rules.
  • Questions about the "feeling" of a certain grammatical phrase, i.e. what it evokes in the reader.

This means that for on-topic grammar questions, the context of your writing has to be relevant to the question.

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