Quite often, I see something like:

Sorry if the language is not perfect, I translated the quotes from german.


Sorry, English is not my native language.

in questions (and, although more rare, in answers).

Although I'm far from writing English perfectly, I think most people are able to understand what I write. So when I see such a notice, I try to fix the language as well as possible. Should I remove "bad English excuse" notices after improving the language?

I would say that such a notice can be removed as soon as the language seems to be good enough to be understood. In my opinion, there should not be any "sorry" or "thanks in advance" or, more general, be anything that is not part of the question. If people see minor mistakes, they can edit the mistake.

According to Should 'Hi', 'thanks,' taglines, and salutations be removed from posts?, many people seem to think that is a good idea to remove "Thanks". So I guess almost the same reasons why people think that salutations should be removed apply to removing "My English is bad" excuses. But I'm not sure about it, so I would like to hear your opinion.

  • 5
    Yes, remove it. It's noise.
    – juergen d
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:39
  • 2
    Anything not directly relevant to the question / answer text is up for removal in my opinion. Wikipedia doesn't have 'sorry if I spelt stuff wrong' text in the content; it is purely the content. If the content is poor it gets improved. Same for Stack Exchange.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:40
  • There's no point in apologizing for good English, is there?
    – 3ventic
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:41
  • @JonW It sounds as if you think the people asking questions should never add something like this. I don't think so. It makes a lot of sense to add this when you ask a question e.g. on math.SE and you're not sure if you've translated the terms correctly. There are examples of mathematical entities where the "dictionary translation" is the wrong one (e.g. German "Kern" is not always "kernel" in English - it depends on the context). Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:44
  • @moose: In that case the OP can add a comment to the post "hopefully I've used good English here, it's not my native language". It's a comment against the question / answer, it is not part of the question / answer.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:47
  • 2
    meta.stackexchange.com/questions/202977/… it's allready discussed?
    – Mart-Jan
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:50
  • Gah @Mart-Jan, I KNEW I had answered this before. Still I couldn't find it. Dangit. Thanks. :)
    – Bart
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:51
  • @Bart: I've searched for something like this and couldn't find it either. Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


Such apologies are not a part of the question or answer and therefore shouldn't be there. It's as simple as that.

If the posts are otherwise good and can be understood, any language problems can be addressed by those who like to edit. If the post can't be understood and we can't even think of an edit that would resolve the issues it has, no amount of apologies is going to save the post.

So if you see it, just edit it out, taking care of any other issues there might be as well.

  • Yes, but only edit this out when you see it while naturally browsing the site. Don't go hunting for them as you'll create mass minor edits and just annoy everyone!
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:48
  • Especially so on lower traffic sites @JonW. SO can handle some of it since things move pretty fast over there anyway. But yeah, no need to hunt this down. It's no drama if it stays in there a bit longer.
    – Bart
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 10:49

I tend to edit out self-derogating apologies that don't seem necessary or helpful if they're unrelated to the substance of the question. (This includes other "noise" like, "Sorry if this is a stupid question, but...") Especially in cases where one apologizes for poor communication in ways that can be fixed in the process of editing, it seems quite pointless to leave those apologies in after there's nothing left to apologize for.

I sometimes get the impression that people feel more willing to downvote when the author expresses a lack of confidence about their work, even if there's no real cause for criticism. To whatever extent this is true, it seems that leaving an inapplicable apology in will only harm the post by encouraging people to read it with negative bias or to dismiss it entirely.

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