What do we do if (say) a non-native user tries to ask a question in French, and there are glaring errors, or just grating ones in their question?

Encourage them to ask in English instead?

Or spend our time correcting everything?

(To quote myself: "And I'm totally against non-native speakers asking questions in the 'other' language unless they're really proficient, because you either end up with 'crap' French on a FL&U site, or need full time editors to go and clean it up, render it idiomatic etc...")

This will probably come back to haunt me some day :)

2 Answers 2


If someone asks a question in comprehensible but bad French, I say a native or fluent speaker should edit the question to correct it. This has three purposes:

  • Teach that person how to write better French — that's presumably what they're here for.
  • For searchability, it's important that at least the most important words be spelled correctly.
  • Keep the site attractive to visitors. nobody want visit the site who the half of the phrases are illegible.

Si quelqu'un pose une question dans un français compréhensible mais haletant, je propose qu'un francophone édite la question pour la corriger, et ce pour deux raisons :

  • Le demandeur bénéficie d'une leçon gratuite de français. Il est censé être là pour ça.
  • Pour que les messages soit trouvés dans des recherches web, il faut qu'au moins les mots les plus importants soit orthographiés correctement.
  • Ça maintient le site propre et attractif. personne veux visiter un cite ou demi des sentences sont uncomprendrable.
  • 2
    +1 - Je suis ici pour améliorer mon francais, donc je voudrais connaître si il ya un erreur. There's probably mistakes in that :)
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 21:09
  • 2
    @awoodland « je voudrais savoir » (the nuances between connaître and savoir a subtle; generally speaking, connaître is knowing about a topic whereas savoir is knowing a fact, but there are exceptions, e.g. connaître une personne). That's in France, Belgian French is different. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 21:16
  • 2
    There's probably a question in that right there.
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 21:17
  • 1
    Indeed french.stackexchange.com/questions/39/connaitre-and-savoir
    – Evpok
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 23:11
  • @Gilles, We're going to have a lot of Strunk & White's then :) (Thinks: what should that badge be called in French?)
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 5:35
  • Jai failli corriger cite en site pour faire le malin...
    – Joubarc
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 6:19
  • 3
    Je note que « phrases » et « sentences » sont quatre faux-amis dont deux veulent dire la même chose ; mais que pour traduire la fausse amitié de ces deux là, il faut inverser la traduction : le « phrase » anglais est traduit en la « sentence » française. Bravo à Gilles pour cette magnifique découverte. Et, si vous avez rien compris à ce charabia vous avez le droit de plussoyez quand même :-p Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 23:24
  • The last sentence of both versions are short a capital letter.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 6:15
  • @Borror0 There are far more things that are wrong in the last sentence: it's an example of the sort of things we don't want to see on the site. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 9:28
  • @Gilles: I know, but the lack capital letter drives crazy. I don't think there is a single sentence on Skeptics that does not have a capital letter, even if it is part of a deleted post.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Borror0 The omission words me crazy :p Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 17:55

We should certainly correct phrases that are obviously incorrect French, but I think we should let minor errors slide -- otherwise we risk offending anyone whose perfectly correct Quebecisms (for example) are "corrected" by a well-meaning Frenchman!

  • 7
    Yes, this is analogue to the "don't edit for UK/US English" 'policy' on Stack Overflow.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 5:34
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    So, we should start a long Community Wiki question about what are Quebecisms, Francisms, etc…, so that everybody knows? Might be a good idea! Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 0:03
  • I don't think we should let minor errors. For instance, when I reading on English usage site something that is not corrected, I consider it as ok. When I edit a lot of errors, I warn the user to let him read again and learn, not when it's minor edits, but it is good for other who read in French to learn French. When it's quebecism, it should be stated, and when someone offend someone else by editing because he doesn't know it's a quebecism, it's not a problem, edits can be reverted. It's not the same UK/US english regarding of mainstream French and quebecism, can't compare.
    – Quidam
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 6:31

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