I found a comment on one of the videos in the Khan Academy site, which is something along the lines of...

Always err on the side of giving too much information.

(The subject was maths, and the poster's English seemed idiomatic enough.)

I'd parsed the above as:

While writing an answer to a maths problem, you're stuck between the choice of giving or not giving some information. Your answer could be either "lacking" or "have unnecessary/more than required info" if you choose to go with any one option. Either way you could make a mistake. But it's always safer to go with the latter (option). At least you've included all the possible information you can. So it all boils down to this — if you've to err, err on the side of giving too much information.

To my non-native ear, it doesn't sound immediately obvious. It might even be ungrammatical, but that doesn't seem very likely.


Is the sentence

  • idiomatic
  • obvious enough to native speakers
  • grammatical


  • There's nothing at all ungrammatical in the quote, and although I would have to see the comment in context, your surmise sounds reasonable. It's a very common expression in English, as is obvious from this search. This means that it's obvious and idiomatic (not "idiomatical", though.) Jul 2, 2017 at 2:05
  • By the way, Pinky, there's a mistake in this sentence: "Either ways you'd make a mistake." Can you spot it? 50 quatloo reward if you catch it without help! :) Jul 2, 2017 at 4:00
  • @P.E.Dant Either ways you could make a mistake. I was writing on my phone really fast. I also made many other typos and mistakes because of that: "idiomatical" instead of "idiomatic" the second time (but got it right the first time), "biols" instead of "boils", and that grammatical error. Jul 2, 2017 at 8:37
  • @P.E.Dant Anyways, I object to being called "Pinky'. I know you said that jokingly. But, I've a proper name. Jul 2, 2017 at 8:40
  • Please accept my apology. My own daughter's nickname is Pinky, and I thought it quite charmingly coincidental that you went by the same sobriquet. No disrespect was intended, and typographical errors are inconsequential. (It would be most amusing if you should know what a quatloo is!) Jul 2, 2017 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Your sentence

Always err on the side of giving too much information.

is grammatical and understandable.

The meaning behind your sentence is that, while math tends to be a fairly exact science, in a test environment students are usually encouraged to "show all their work" with the possibility of receiving partial credit even if they cannot solve the problem.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .