Levels of formality in writing2

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  • 1. Levels of Formality in Writing
  • 2. The goal of this moduleIs to help you understand and master thedifferences between different levels of formal orinformal diction that are appropriate andinappropriate for different circumstances.
  • 3. Who is your audience? What is your purpose?• Most people don’t speak to their classmates the way they speak to their grandparents;• they don’t speak to our grandparents the way they write for their teachers;• and they may not write for their teachers the way they would write a letter applying for a scholarship.
  • 4. Who is your audience? What is your purpose?These differences are part of what is meant bylevels of formality.
  • 5. Think and Respond.• How might you ask the question, “How are you today?” in the following situations: – Speaking to a possible employer? – Writing on a friend’s Facebook page? – When a classmate calls you on a cellphone seven minutes before class? – Talking to a relative you haven’t seen since your HS Graduation?
  • 6. Levels of Formality•For the most part, levels of formality can beunderstood through different levels: – informal, – semi-formal, and – formal.•Language that would be completely acceptable inone context can be inappropriate in another.
  • 7. Is it appropriate?• Language that would be completely acceptable in one context can be inappropriate in another.• It is important, therefore, to understand the goals of your writing, and use language consistent with your goals
  • 8. Colloquial Language Colloquial language is the language of everyday speech. It changes rapidly, and most people master several forms of colloquial language for different situations. Text messaging, personal emails, and thelanguage of social networking sites all use various written forms of colloquial writing. And as you already know...
  • 9. ...colloquial language...• ...is SELDOM appropriate for – Academic – Business, or – Legal writing.• If you are quoting someone directly, it can be appropriate, but be thoughtful not to disrupt your overall tone.
  • 10. Tweeting and Texting...• ...have created new and vital forms of written colloquial language. Consider this tweet#YouGetMajorPointsIf U dont tweet how gr8 u are..stay humble, never 4get ur roots, the people who helped u, stay loyal and never lie!• Ten years ago, this would have been gibberish!
  • 11. Think and Respond• Using texting/tweeting shorthand, compose tweets explaining why college students should: #RegisterToVote. #Recycle.
  • 12. Informal Language• Informal language tries to capture some of the flow of everyday speech.• It broadly adheres to the rules of standard written English, but imprecise word choice and contractions are acceptable, so long as the meaning is clear• It generally uses complete sentences, but some use of sentence fragments is common. For emphasis.
  • 13. Informal Language (continued)• Informal writing is meant for a broad audience; the purpose is usually to express a personal idea; most online blogging and personal essays use informal writing.• Contractions are acceptable.• Some use of the first and second person (“I,” “you”) is acceptable.
  • 14. Semi-Formal Language• Semi-formal language is the writing of magazines like The Smithsonian or websites like The Daily Beast that are aimed at a general but thoughtful audience.• Complete sentences are used.• Contractions are written out (“can not” “did not,” etc.”• Limited use of first and second person for specific rhetorical effect is common.
  • 15. Formal Language• Formal language is used in business, academic, and government writing.• It is written for an audience who already knows something about the topic.• It makes careful use of a specialized vocabulary. (This can make formal writing challenging to write and to read.)• Contractions are written out.• First person writing is avoided.
  • 16. Let Us Review!
  • 17. For the following scenarios, indicate which level of diction –colloquial, informal, semi-formal, or formal–you would be likely to use.Click on your selection to get feedback.
  • 18. You text a friend to say you’ll be hanging out at the mall this afternoon.Colloquial [right]Informal [probably not; text messages tend to be very colloquial]Semi-formal *probably not; “hanging out” is too informal+Formal *“hanging out” is not formal language+
  • 19. You apply for a job at a large bank where your uncle is a director of personnel.Colloquial [absolutely not!]Informal [To apply for a job at a bank? Poor idea!]Semi-formal [Do not be fooled by the fact that it is your uncle who might be hiring you, or that you’ll have to write about yourself in the first person; this would be too informal]Formal [Correct. You want to be formal and precise in your application.]
  • 20. You write a personal essay about your decision to start smoking when you were thirteen and to stop when you were sixteen.Colloquial [While an essay like this might have colloquial elements, it would be best to confine them to quotations.]Informal [Informal would work; however, for a classroom assignment, too much informality might not be a good idea.]Semi-formal [Semi-formal might work, but in a personal essay, even a semi-formal tone can sound wooden.]Formal [In a personal essay, a formal tone usually sounds wooden or detached..]
  • 21. For the following 6 slides, Identify the levels of formality as informal, semi- formal, or formalClick on your selection to get feedback.
  • 22. She was sort of mad because she couldnt find her car keys and didnt have a whole lot of time to get to her class.Informal [Correct]Semi-formal [Incorrect; notice the contractions, and the vague terms--”sort of, “whole lot”.+Formal [Incorrect.]
  • 23. She was upset because she could not find her car keys and did not have the time to look before class.Informal [Incorrect]Semi-formal [Correct;.]Formal [Incorrect.]
  • 24. Unable to locate her car keys and lackingsufficient time to both search for them and to travel to class, she became agitated.Informal [Try again]Semi-formal [Try again.]Formal [Incorrect; while not all formal writing is like this, the attempt to be precise about details an informal sentence would leave to the reader is characteristic of formal wrting.]
  • 25. Private sexual morality between consenting adults is not an issue for legalintervention, except for rare instances that entail issues of public health, such as an epidemic that needs to be contained.Informal [Incorrect, but you knew that didnt you?]Semi-formal *Incorrect; there is nothing “semi” about this formaliy.+Formal [ Correct.]
  • 26. Analyzing the causes and effects ofthe civil war depends in large part on the point of view of who is talking.Informal [Try again]Semi-formal [Correct.]Formal [Incorrect.]
  • 27. If you buy that garbage about how teens dont know the difference between a text message and a history paper, you should read more.Informal [Correct]Semi-formal *Incorrect; notice the contractions, and the use of “you”.+Formal [Incorrect.]
  • 28. The following sentence was intended to be written in a formal level of discourse. If the underlined passage seems consistent with this, hit C. If not, indicate the passage which would best complete this sentence.Click on your selection to get feedback.
  • 29. The continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide due to manmade carbon dioxide emissions is predicted to lead tosignificant changes in climate, and theresnothing to do about it but stop polluting.A. which can be alleviated through a long term effort of emission reduction. [Correct]B. and the best approach to solving this problem would be to burn less stuff. [Too informal!]C. No change. [Try again]
  • 30. The following sentence was intended to be written in a semi-formal level of discourse. If the underlined passage seems consistent with this, hit C. If not, indicate the passage which would best complete this sentence.Click on your selection to get feedback.
  • 31. The guest lecturer offered the class a lengthy explanation for the recent changes in the stock market, but it was sort of clear from the questionsafterwards that most of us just didnt get it.A. but it was evident from the interlocution which followed that comprehension had not been transmitted. [Incorrect]B. but it was clear from the questions afterwards that most of the class did not understand. [Correct!]C. No change. [Try again]
  • 32. The following sentence was intended to be written in a formal level of discourse. If the underlined passage seems consistent with this, hit C. If not, indicate the passage which would best complete this sentence.Click on your selection to get feedback.
  • 33. To eliminate sexual harassment in the work place, companies should develop defined guidelines that help employees recognize actions to avoid.A. help you try to figure out what to do and not do . [Incorrect]B. tell people like me what it is okay to do. [Incorrect]C. No change. [Correct!]
  • 34. Look Back at Your Tweets……about registering to vote and recycling. Imagine that you are writing essays for the student newspaper supporting those ideas. What level of formality would such essays use? Go ahead and rewrite each of those tweets in the level of formality you think is appropriate.
  • 35. Open DiscussionCollege instructors often exchange tales of receiving emails from students like this: • Dr. C.: This is malik. About my grade. I cant be getting no cs, ds, or fs. Hope this is cool. M.What level of formality is this hypothetical student using? Is it appropriate? Why or why not?
  • 36. In Closing…As you can see, level of formality is not so much a question of right or wrong, but appropriate and inappropriate. Even within the four major categories (colloquial, informal, semi-formal, formal), there is much room differentiation. In most college writing situations, you will be working in the semi-formal to formal range, depending upon the assignment, the task, and the instructor.