Formal Language : often associated with written standard English conventions. It is signaled by complex, complete sentences, impersonality, avoidance of colloquial or slang vocabulary.
Informal Language is characterized by a simpler grammatical structure (i.e. loosely-connected sentences and phrases), personal evaluation, and a colloquial or slang vocabulary.
2: Formal and informal speech and writing Use of Contraction He has gone. (Formal) He's gone. (Informal) Use of prepositions Which nation does she belong to? (Informal) To which nation does she belong? (Formal) Use of relative pronouns The woman who you are talking about is my boss. (Formal) The woman you are talking about is my boss. (Informal) Use of determiners Neither of the answers is correct. (Formal) Neither of the answers are correct. (Informal)
common informal / formal equivalents. Informal _ formal a bit _ a little about _ concerning ask for _ request but _ however buy _ purchase find _ locate get _ obtain help _ assist promise _ assure send back _ return
How to Avoid Colloquial Informal Words Avoid using common colloquial words and expressions 1: Colloquial words and phrases are called "colloquialisms." There are also solecisms, such as "ain’t," which are grammatical errors. Finally, there are nonwords, combinations of letters and characters that do not form real words, such as "alot." 2: Avoid contractions . Use fewer contractions in your writing than you would use in your speech. E.g. “cannot” is preferable to “can't” in formal contexts. 3: Try to avoid the first and second person . Formal writing often tries to be objective, and the pronouns "I" and "you" tend to imply subjectivity. In the most formal writing, "we" replaces "I," and "one" replaces "you."
4: Always include the relative pronoun. In speech and casual writing, you can say, "That was the boy I saw on the street" In formal writing, you should say, "He was the boy whom I saw on the street." In this style, you should be sure to always include "whom" even when it is not necessary to your meaning. 5: Do not start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction . In the written language, do not use coordinating conjunctions such as "and" or "but" to start a sentence. In formal English, try to start sentence with "additionally," (or "moreover" ) "nevertheless," and "alternatively." In casual writing, you can start sentences with "also," but avoid this in formal English.
6: Avoid clichés . Clichés are sayings or expressions. Clichés make your writing informal and sometimes humorous. E.g. Hercules was as strong as an ox. 7: Avoid stage directions . Do not begin a letter by telling the recipient what you plan to do in the letter or begin an essay by telling the reader what the paper will discuss. E.g. "I am writing to you to ask you to. . . ." ...” This paper is going to talk about how “ 8: Avoid vague words . Vague words can be described as words that are open to interpretation or that do not express your ideas as well as more precise words would. "A few" or "enough" can often be replaced by a word that is more precise.
Differences in common colloquial words and expressions
Anybody, anyone more formal than “anybody“ and its variants. Ex: I didn't see anybody. I saw no one
Get, obtain Sometimes, "get" is used for "obtain." In that case, you can use "find" or "grab" in formal writing and "obtain" or "procure" in extremely formal writing.
Formal or Informal Exercise All of the following sentences are acceptable in standard English, but some of them would not be appropriate in more formal writing. See if you can identify which sentences would not be acceptable in a more formal context and tell why. 1. Who should I send this to? 2. We're going to have a big bash, and you're invited. 3. The Smiths request the pleasure of your company at a banquet to be held in the honor of their son Josiah, who will be graduating from Andover College. EXERCISE
ANSWERS The first sentence should use " whom" rather than " who" since it is the object of a preposition. To whom should I send this? We're going to have a big bash, and you're invited. Bash is too slangy for a formal context. The Smiths request the pleasure of your company at a banquet to be held in the honor of their son Josiah, who will be graduating from Andover College. This sentence would be acceptable in a formal situation, such as a formal invitation. 1 2 3