"Oh god, what a question...", I thought, but then realized it's not that simple (even if not meant that way):

  • The question is not: "What's 'im'?"
    The question is: "When do you use 'im' and when do you use 'in'?"

  • The preposition "in" alone can never be replaced by "im". Only in combination with "dem". None of the answers mentioned that. Let's say the asker understands that that's apparently the case.

  • Furthermore, "im" cannot always be replaced by "in dem" and vice versa. See answers.

  • One could argue that this should be obvious from even a little bit of research, yet not even all renowned dictionaries manage to capture this fine little difference. On PONS "im Januar" is subsumed under the categories "in = in dem" and "sich dort befindend".

  • My 2400 page thick Duden-Oxford dictionary lists dozens of examples but does not mention incommutability => It's not a dictionary question.

  • Research effort (online) certainly can't be a close reason. Do you really think we should not answer questions that have been "solved" on Yahoo or the like?

  • Lastly: Even if a question is not that great, we should answer it and encourage the asker to show more effort next time. Why? Because we have like one question per day.

Seems perfectly on-topic for me, so why close it? It would be a nice addition to our SE.

Edit: Just look how much (mostly positive) turmoil this question created, another reason not to close it.


Good you brought this up. In this case there appears to be community disagreement as to whether the guidelines in our FAQ, and in the additional discussion:

hold true. My personal view on this is that it is an interesting topic indeed, which even confuses native speakers as can be seen from good answers and comments there.

Whenever the community disagrees on closing or not we should nor overhastily close a question. Therefore I strongly vote for leaving the question open, or retract existing close votes (which is possible).

If despite the disagreement on close reason enough community members gathered their close votes, and the questions gets actually closed the following measures can be taken:

  • cast a reopen vote
  • point to the question to be reopened in Chat
  • edit the question to make it better
  • flag it for a moderator attention as a last resort to get the question reopened if not enough reopen votes from the community can be collected.

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