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I have noticed that a few of the less popular sites (like Blender and 3D printing) often contain questions that are very hard to read, mostly because of grammatical errors. I understand that not everyone can write in perfect English, but I feel that a checklist of simple errors they can eliminate might be useful.

That way, whenever such a post is made, the user can be pointed to here so they can improve their future posts.

So here it is. If you have noticed a common mistake that makes a post hard to read, please add it to the answer answer below.

  • Please add examples and explain how the error can be fixed.
  • Please only add fixes that most people can understand; a complicated explanation about when you should use “its” and “it’s”, for example, might not be helpful to users whose first language isn’t English.
  • Please make the answer quick to read. Few people would read through a long post just to fix their grammar.
  • Please add an explanation about why this error should be fixed.
  • Please make everything understandable to English speakers of any level.
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    No no no. Please post one answer with all the contents. Do not spread it over many answers. So please delete two of the answers, and edit one of them to contain it all. Then it might even become a faq one day. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Dec 21 '17 at 19:15
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    @ShadowWizard ok, done. I initially thought multiple answers would be better, because that way the community could re-arrange them based on which ones are most helpful. But you seem to know what you're talking about (92k!) :) – Reinis Mazeiks Dec 21 '17 at 19:45
  • Cheers, but looks like others don't really like this for some reason, the question is getting close votes. I'll do my best to keep it open as I think it's legit and useful. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Dec 21 '17 at 19:47
  • @ale that's wishful thinking, looks like many users here don't think this question is even on topic, so in case it's closed it can't really be a faq. (what I'm saying is that I'd wait until the question is "stable" before adding the tag.) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Dec 21 '17 at 20:31
  • If they can't be bothered checking it already, this list is even further out of reach. If they do check, they'll Google a thesaurus or dictionary (or even Google the word and get immediate correction) or use the built-in spellchecker where it exists. See also: questions about style guides, questions about getting an SE-based spellchecking system. – Nij Dec 21 '17 at 20:43
  • @Nij I couldn't really find any posts on meta SE that would help users fix grammar mistakes. There's this, but the accepted answer seems to provide general guidelines for SE questions. Don't you think it would be useful to have simple instructions that ideally would contain instructions approved by the community to make question more readable? I agree with you that using external resources would solve the problem, but some people don't seem to use them. Having a guide for SE that can be referred to could help make them to improve their posts. – Reinis Mazeiks Dec 21 '17 at 21:16
  • That is my point. With all the existing resources available, and even two entire Stack Exchange sites devoted to English, they still haven't made an effort. A single question here isn't going to fix the problem. – Nij Dec 21 '17 at 22:22
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    Cross site dupe: meta.stackoverflow.com/q/291362/6622817 – abccd Dec 21 '17 at 22:38
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Avoid long sentences

A sentence that is four or more lines long might make sense to you as you write it, but it may become hard to understand to a reader that isn’t familiar with your problem.

Use apostrophes when appropriate

In English, you can shorten phrases like “I am” or “you are” into shorter forms, like “I’m” or “you’re”, respectively. When you do this, you need to add the apostrophe in between.

Omitting the apostrophe can make your post harder to read. You should include the apostrophe.

Examples:

  • Im -> I’m
  • youre -> you’re
  • theyre -> they’re

Capitalize “I”

In English, the pronoun “I” should always be capitalized. It might be acceptable to leave it uncapitalized when texting, but using “i” can make Stack Exchange posts harder to read for some users.

Avoid starting sentences with "So"

Saying something like "So, I'm getting this error and can't understand what it means" may sound natural while speaking, but this style can be confusing to readers. Deleting the "So" is usually enough.

  • Using apostrophes correctly is hard enough when the only language you know is English, the advice should be, not to use them at all. – Ramhound Dec 22 '17 at 5:15
  • @Ramhound I agree with you that it might be hard to differentiate between "its" and "it's" (which is why I didn't include them). However, most people would be able to use "I'm" and "you're" correctly, I think, especially if these mistakes are pointed out to them. – Reinis Mazeiks Dec 22 '17 at 17:04

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