First, let me be clear that I am not attacking the OPs of these questions. I think this is an important issue that needs to be brought up soon in the beta process.

A couple sample questions to look at:

Both of these questions actually mix languages (Spanglish?) in their titles (and the second one in the actual question, too). I think this needs to be discouraged.

Note that I'm not arguing against allowing Spanish and English questions (or answers), I'm arguing against randomly mixing the two.

  • Let me consider the first one first:

    The proper phrasing (and I've already made this edit), I believe, is "vaso de agua" or "vaso con agua"? Which is correct? or "vaso de agua" o "vaso con agua"? Cuál es correcto? The addition of quotation marks is necessary in either case, I believe. I hope what I'm pointing out is clear here... The entire question should be in English or in Spanish (the exception being the bits in quotes, which are what the question is about)

  • The second one may be a bit of a special case. (Although I don't think it actually is).

    I believe the proper phrasing for the second question should be: Preterit of ser and ir. There's no need to mix languages here, either unless the OP is actually asking about subtlties in the Spanish pretérito tense that don't exist in the English preterit tense. But even then, the question itself still needs to be changed:

    How did the verbs ser and ir evolve to have the same conjugation in the pretérito (and also in the imperfecto and futuro of subjuntivo)? And why do their forms in pretérito begin with fu-?

    [Emphasis mine]

    futuro of subjuntivo just sounds sloppy to me. It should be futuro de subjuntivo if it actually makes sense to say this in Spanish. More likely future subjunctive is the proper phrase here, since the rest of the question (except for verb tense names) is in English.

I hope that my edit on the first question is pretty uncontroversial, but if not, please express your dissenting opinions here. On the second one, I think we need to decide what actually makes sense. Is there a case to be made for expressing verb tenses in Spanish for the sake of clarity, even when the question is otherwise in English? And if so, does this question match that case?

  • My bad, I meant futuro DE subjuntivo of course. I didn't notice I used "of" here... Funny mistake.
    – kodkod
    Nov 26, 2011 at 19:22
  • @kodkod: An easy mistake to make :) I hope you don't mind the edit I made to your question...
    – Flimzy
    Nov 26, 2011 at 19:27
  • No, I don't mind at all :)
    – kodkod
    Nov 26, 2011 at 19:32
  • 1
    One funny thing for me is that one of your suggested improvements appears to mix three languages! Preterit of ser and ir To many English speakers, preterit is a French word. I'll let you get away with it though because I looked it up for verification and apparently it's an accepted variant spelling of preterite in American English only. But it does go to show that we don't always realize when we're mixing languages, or when other people think we are mixing languages. Nov 27, 2011 at 9:37
  • My bad. I didn't notice I mixed and used "o" instead of "or". Nov 28, 2011 at 18:28
  • @hippietrail: We discussed this on chat... both "preterit" and "preterite" are considered correct spelling in English, as you mentioned (a tag synonym should probably be created eventually).
    – Flimzy
    Nov 28, 2011 at 18:54

5 Answers 5


The unofficial rule on GLU is to comment and answer questions in ONE language. So, even the native speakers will sometimes ask in German (e.g. for a very special dialect that is not of interest to learners of German) sometimes in English

German question title means german question text, answer, comments are mandatory. For obvious reasons (Many people seem to come here to learn Spanish, much more than on ELU/GlU imo considering the many translation-tagged questions) spanish comments on english questions/answers are a no-go.

Tags on GLU are in English


I think shouldn't allow is too strong wording. We shouldn't act like dictators or cops but we do want a good quality site.

I don't think it's bad though to say we should encourage using only one language in posts. That way we promote good quality without alienating newcomers.

The best way is to simply edit posts where the mixing is distracting or confusing.

  • 2
    By "shouldn't allow" I don't mean that we ought to close such questions, or chastise people who ask them; simply that we ought to edit them to be in compliance.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 27, 2011 at 17:24
  • In that case I think we agree (-: Nov 27, 2011 at 18:21
  • I agree with Flimzy. We shouldn't allow this. Meaning, if the original poster wants to start an edit war, the question will be locked. The post must be in one language or the other, not in a mix. Still, I agree with you that we should simply edit the title or the question to be in one or the other, not close it or anything.
    – Richard
    Nov 28, 2011 at 14:34
  • 1
    I really find it difficult to imagine a scenario where we will have people waging edit wars in some kind of effort to specifically get a bunch of Spanglish on here. I only expect bad Spanish with some Anglicisms mixed in by mistake or bad English with some Hispanicisms mixed in by mistake. We can tidy those up when we come to them. I don't understand all this defensive talk as though something sinister is looming. Nov 28, 2011 at 15:57

In my original question (Preterite of ser and ir), the only Spanish words were grammar terms (préterito, subjuntivo etc.), and the verbs themselves.

In my questions about Spanish in this site and other forums, I prefer to use grammar terms in Spanish rather than in English, because an English term is not always an exact equivalent of a Spanish one (e.g. the usage of the Spanish gerundio is not identical to the English gerund, if I'm not mistaken).

However, I do agree that questions and answers in one main language should be encouraged. Embedding Spanish technical terms in a question written in English should be OK, but not "random" mixture of Spanish and English.

  • This is an important distinction, and was the reason I waited to edit your question. I'm not sure that there are many meaningful differences between the verb tenses in English and Spanish--at least not in the context of your specific question. (I realize there often are very meaningful differences in tenses between other languages.) I don't think the gerund/gerundio concept varies much between the two languages either; although the proper use certainly does.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 27, 2011 at 20:33
  • (cont'd) If/when we encounter a situation where a grammatical term actually means something different between the languages, then I think it would completely appropriate to use the term in the language we are referring to. I don't think that's the case in this particular question (although maybe there are subtle differences of which I'm unaware that the English term "pretirit" doesn't cover that the Spanish term "pretérito" does or vice versa). Maybe I'll ask a question about this. :)
    – Flimzy
    Nov 27, 2011 at 20:36

I agree with you, questions should be written in a single language.

In another question, "Should we allow question and answer bodies in Spanish?" we treated a similar subject. I voted for both, but the point is: nobody voted for some other language than those two.

Therefore, I'd say that any language/code-switching/pidgin/language system other than those two is not allowed and this is not our decision, but a Stack Exchange policy (although I'm not sure where it's explictly written). With this last paragraph, I'm saying that Spanglish, Portuñol or any language system regarding Spanish should not be allowed.

  • There is no such Stack Exchange policy. The general policy is that sites are single-language (currently), but sites about languages are exceptions. That being said, even French Language (where a majority of the posts are in French) doesn't mix French and English in the same post, unless there's a (partial or complete) translation. Dec 1, 2011 at 1:51
  • @Gilles Well, there is nothing written maybe, but if you ask some Community mod about that, they will tell you that other language systems are not supposed to be used for questions and answers. But now that you raised the problem, you brought up some doubt... I'll have to ask next time I talk to someone from the top floors. :D
    – Alenanno
    Dec 1, 2011 at 8:55

To answer your first point of contention, you are totally all mixed up as to what exactly constitutes "Spanglish"! Spanglish is a sentence spoken in Spanish in which the speaker is at a loss for the correct translation and so interjects the English word in lieu of the correct Spanish word. Your example exemplifies the improper grammar by a non-native speaker, that is called in slang "mocho" chopped, and properly called "la idioma mochada" the chopped idiom. The immediate aforementioned is NOT "Spanglish". Your second example is totally in error and shows that you are a non-Mexican as "we" know the difference between the verb "ser"= to be, and the verb "ir" = to go. Neither is interchangable with the other. Example via conjugation of verbs: "yo-soy, tu-eres, Ud. & Uds.-eres, nosotros & vosotros-vamos, ellos or ellas-seran. yo-voy, tu-vas, Ud. & Uds-van, ello & ellas-van. Those are the proper conjugation of the two different verbs however the verb ser is subjective and can be used as an adberb, and the verb ir is active and cannot be used as an adverb.

  • 1
    The dictionary offers multiple definitions of Spanglish: Either Spanish with a mixing of English, or English with a mixing of Spanish. This matches my use of the word in the question. As to your second point, I don't have a clue what you're talking about. My second example has nothing to do with the verbs "ser" and "ir"; it was about using the words "pretérito," "imperfecto," "futuro," and "subjuntivo" in otherwise English sentences.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 27, 2011 at 5:44
  • 3
    I don't think there is one fixed sense for what Spanglish means. To me it is pretty much any mix of Spanish and English. There's no codified standard Spanglish. Nov 27, 2011 at 9:39
  • I agree to some extent with Roman but this answer is a bit offensive. There are many interpretations for spanglish. But for what I understand, the type of spanglish Roman refers to should not be allowed. e.g. "Yo went a la grocery ayer". @Roman try a different wording and make it clearer and I may change my vote.
    – Jose Luis
    Dec 6, 2011 at 10:40

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