Should questions that can easily be answered with a Spanish-English dictionary be considered on topic here?

For example:

  • How do you say "tablecloth"?
  • Translation of "miel"

What about phrases that aren't necessarily found in a dictionary?

For example:

  • Best translation for "dead tired"
  • How do you translate "más vale"?

2 Answers 2


If the question is easily answered by a dictionary, that falls into the category of "general reference" and ought to be closed.

If the question is asking about some subtlty, or ambiguity that a dictionarly cannot easily answer, then I think it is on-topic.

I think How should I translate "table" (as in a data table)? is a good example where a translation dictionary would fail, and therefor a reasonable question for this site.

  • 4
    Yes, this is not a translation service. Questions involving translation should be about some finer subtly of the language. If someone is just asking you to do straight-forward translation work for them, the post should be closed as "not a real question" ... with a thoughtful comment explaining why. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 2:41
  • 1
    +1 the internet services for translation are becoming better and better linguee.com/english-spanish/search?query=should+have
    – Hauser
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:00
  • They're pretty good at translating single words and they're OK for translating passages, at least to give you the gist. They're very hit and miss great at translating idioms. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 17:37
  • @hippietrail: I was pleasantly surprised when Google Translate translated por si las moscas correctly.
    – Jaime Soto
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 3:48

In the words of Jeff Atwood: "Some questions are too simple".

I believe that simple dictionary searches fall solidly within that realm.

As you mention, though, words and phrases that aren't immediately found in the dictionary are outside of this rule since they aren't easily found.

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