Native speakers might know how to teach German; they may have an idea how do (their) students learn German; and they might have an idea how one learns a foreign language, but, as a matter of fact, they never, ever have learned German – not as a foreign language (they won't ever have to face foreign-language issues related to political correctness, for instance). Thus, the fact that native speakers seem to think they have a criterion to know how useless a question might be for German-learners, beginners or not, bemuses me.

Some recent comments on the question "Most terrible-sounding mistakes in German" motivated this question.

As background, as I see it, the OP in "How do Germans react to foreigners messing up noun genders?" didn't prove to know some German, other than acknowledging that nouns have gender. No offense to the people who wrote answers there, but most answers there boil down cheering the OP up. Now, that question has +23 votes and hasn't been closed. On the other hand, I was motivated to ask "How do Germans react to foreigners messing up noun genders?" because I saw that the question found no objection at all. On top of that "Most terrible-sounding mistakes in German" was posed because I was sure it would generate valuable information: not valuable for native speakers, but for German learners. For instance what should one have asked to obtain the following of information:

"The precise ending doesn't matter to me all that much as long as there is one Die schön Frau sounds really bad to my ears and that is not dependent on context and it cannot be hidden by otherwise fluent speech (like wrong articles can be)" (from Emanuel's answer)

or, his comment, which I find even more interesting:

"It doesn't matter whether it's right or not so long as there is SOME ending. Because it changes the rhythm. "Der schön Baum"... the rest of your sentence can be as elaborate as it will, with this blunder you sound like an A1 student to me" from a comment.

How could one even presage the question that should be asked to obtain that? The answer is indeed subjective, but also incredibly useful. Since that question aparently generates worthless information for the native speakers but, at least from my viewpoint, good information for learners, I ask here whether GLU.SE is a good site for German learners. That is, does it really make sense that mother-tongue speakers say "this is not useful for learners"?

  • The title is polemic without a hint what the content of the question is about. It should be changed to reflekt what your question is about. Jun 25, 2014 at 12:16
  • @userunknown then suggest something / edit yourself. It may be a very snarky title, but IMO it reflects what the question is about at the core
    – Vogel612
    Jun 25, 2014 at 14:26
  • @Vogel612: You suggest an edit while in your opinion the title fits to the question? Zounds! Jun 26, 2014 at 9:52
  • @userunknown I suggest you edit, if you don't like it. That's a horse with different color.
    – Vogel612
    Jun 26, 2014 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


To answer your question title (which appears to not be related to your question body):

No, German.se is for both, learners and advanced speakers of the German language. Beginnner's questions and questions from non-natives are welcome and encouraged.

Now the second part (i.e. the body) of your question is something different. It does not so much address issues a beginner has with asking questions here but deals with a given close reason of a question.

Unlike the "reference" question (which was previously put in the close review queue too) your question here was not limited to a single answerable topic or issue but was rather broad as it asked for a list of possible mistakes a non-native could make. Furthermore you also asked whether these mistakes sound terrible to native speakes, which also made it subjective. So reasons to close it would be both, "too broad", as well as "subjective". People took the latter reason.

Any of these questions generally are not a good fit for StackExchange sites where where the idea of "one question - one answer" was so successful. Rather than reinventing the wheel here we should all work to meeting this standard.

We should therefore close any of such broad questions where we can not provide a sensibly short answer, or where we can't possibly choose a "best" or "accepted" answer. This does not mean that such a question may not be tremendously helpful or interesting. It simply means it does not fit to a Stackexchange site (and should therefore be discussed elsewhere).

  • I see. Yet, to be fair "to order a finite number of mistakes" is limited to a single answerable topic, from my viewpoint: that sigle topic is order according to how horrid a mistake can sound. And if that cannot be answered, then, again to be fair, the reference question (which to be answered presupposes the existence of that order) should have been closed, if we are treating users unbiasedly.
    – c.p.
    Jun 25, 2014 at 11:33
  • @c.p. I diagree here. The other question asked for one single aspect (noun genders) which can be answered as seen by the answers we have there. This topic would be included in your question on all mistakes too. They really are different.
    – Takkat
    Jun 25, 2014 at 11:44
  • Really? One of the +4-score answers is "I don't expect anyone to react negatively. And in most cases you can still get the meaning even if you get all genders wrong. In contrary many will even find it charming, e.g. Nathalie Licard made it into German TV." If that is what we want, then I'm happy that we disagree: yes, it generates concrete answers, which have zero content.
    – c.p.
    Jun 25, 2014 at 12:10
  • 1
    "zero content". no not zero content. It shows that it is acceptable to mess up the noun genders with demonstration by example. I think this is acceptable as an answer. It could of course be better, but I upvoted. And I do not feel remorse. (for the record I also upvoted your question and the other question, too.)
    – Vogel612
    Jun 25, 2014 at 14:30

The question is - subjective aspects ignored - simply not answerable. There is no numeric rank for bad sounding mistakes, and I don't see a prosaic possibility to describe the badness of errors, compared to others.

How terrible an error is is always depending on the context, not on the error alone. And the information is absolute useless. What would you do if building the wrong past of a verb was more terrible than the wrong case in a question or using the wrong article? Concentrate your lerning on building the past, only?

A terrible error is only an error which goes unnoticed and is misinterpreted. If your listener mentions an error - what can happen? It might be a teacher giving you a bad rank, yes, but that's not what you mean. How people react to your errors is something in the character of these people, not something in the error.

If the speaker has problems in doing errors and getting over the reaction of others, it is a psychologic quetion for the speaker, not something in the errors - again not.

Except in school and examinas, you're invited to do it wrong. :)

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