Uploaded by Mr-Mostafa Alkholy


Formal and Informal English
The difference between formal and informal English is not a difference between correct and incorrect, but a
difference of what is known as register. A register is a variety of language related to a particular subject
matter or area of activity, a set of words and expressions as well as syntactical features that may be said to
characterise that specific area of language. There are many registers: technical, academic, mathematical,
scientific, etc. Very broadly speaking, we can also speak of a “formal” and “informal” register in English. In
writing academic reports and the like, it would be normal to draw most of the vocabulary and expressions
from the formal register, and few, if any, from the informal. This entails avoiding colloquial (everyday) or
slang expressions in your writing assignments. The question of register is far more complicated than indicated
here; for example, there are many degrees of formality and informality. However, below are listed a few
examples which may be of practical assistance.
They did an experiment
The experiment was carried out /
Then the Drive Manager goes through some
steps to install the programme
The Drive Manager then performs / executes
a series of functions / operations in order
to install the programme
One after the other
At regular intervals
They found out what the important things
They determined / discovered /
established / identified the important
properties / characteristics / issues
You can find out all about the survey on
page 7
Details of the survey are to be found on
page 7
We think you should discuss the research
findings at the next departmental meeting
It is recommended that the research
findings are discussed at the next
departmental meeting
Doctors have come up with a new method
Doctors have created / established a new
method of….
Safety officers are looking into the problem
Safety officers are investigating the problem
The cost of cleaning services has gone up
25% over the last three years
The cost of cleaning services has risen by
25% over the last three years
We do not think it is a good idea to do
anything at the moment
It is suggested that no action should be
taken at this stage
Many thanks to the staff at “Computers R
Us” for their help on the technical side
Thanks are extended to the staff at
“Computers R Us” for their technical
(Slightly less formal: We would like to
thank ….)
You need to get the patient’s help when
doing these hearing tests
When conducting these audiological tests,
the active participation of the patient being
tested is required.
There were no big differences between the
three different groups we tested
No significant differences emerged between
the three different groups tested
A lot of
Many / much / a great deal of
This seemed to fix the problem
This appeared to rectify the problem
This shows that …
This demonstrates…
Numbers are going up
Numbers are increasing
They put the plan into action
The plan was implemented / carried out
This let them keep the same temperature
during the whole experiment
This allowed / permitted / resulted in /
ensured a constant temperature throughout
the experiment / for the entire experiment
These results are because of factors like
weight, age …
These results are dependent on factors such
as weight, age …
Differences between formal and informal English
Formal English
Used in official, literary, academic, etc. content.
Informal English
Used in everyday, personal conversations.
Typically used in "improvised" speech — when the speaker
Typically used in careful, edited writing — when the
is speaking without preparation, as in a conversation (in
writer has a lot of time to polish his text. Formal
real life or over the phone). Informal English also occurs in
English also occurs in speech, usually when the
writing, usually whenever the writer is writing quickly and
speaker is saying something that was prepared
without editing (for example, in an Internet chatroom or in
beforehand (for example, reading the news or delivering
quick, personal e-mails).
an official speech).
Because informal English is "improvised", it is sloppy.
Speakers (and sometimes writers) often do the following:
Use "delaying expressions" to give themselves time: Well, I
Sentences are longer and more complicated, for
think they should have asked us first, you know?
example: Toyota's US sales bounced back in March as Use "correcting expressions" to correct themselves: He's
substantial discounts helped to win back customers
not well. I mean, he's not sick, but he's very tired.
who had been shaken by the firm's mass safety recalls. Use "qualifying expressions" to show that what they said is
not exactly right: This whole blogging thing is getting kind
of old.
The standard of correctness is higher. Some phrases
are considered correct (or at least acceptable) in
Informal English contains useful "everyday phrases", for
Here you are. There you go. (when giving something to
informal English, but wrong in formal English. For Excuse me?, Come again? (to ask someone to repeat
I have made less mistakes. (formal: I have made fewer What do you mean? (to ask for explanation)
So, you're saying that...? (to ask for confirmation)
She's liking it. (formal: She likes it.)
Exactly!, I couldn't agree with you more. (to agree with
I feel real good. (formal: I feel really good.)
By the way..., Anyway... (to change the topic)
See you. Take care. (to say goodbye)
A huge number of words and phrases are used mainly
in formal English. For example: nevertheless, to
A huge number of words and phrases are used mainly in
disclose, to constitute, to undertake, daunting,
informal English. For example: dude, freaking, uh-huh,
impervious, anew, truly, solace, to enchant, frantically,nope (= no), to puke, trashy, grownup, awesome, to chill
sizeable, to clutch, heyday, as it happens, upsurge,
out, stuff, hard-up, to tick somebody off, to sell like crazy.
Phrasal verbs are used frequently. For example, in informal
situations, people usually say found out instead of
Many (but not all) phrasal verbs are avoided.
discovered, came across instead of encountered and got
away instead of escaped.
Words and phrases are sometimes pronounced in a
shortened and simplified way, e.g. Lemme go!, I'm doin'
fine, Whassup?, Whatcha gonna do?
Active and Passive voice
(i) Our technician repaired the fault on 12th June. Now it’s your turn to pay us.
(f) Although the fault was repaired on 12th June, payment for this intervention has still not been received.
Phrasal verbs and Latina
(i) The company laid him off because he didn't work much.
(f) His insufficient production conducted to his dismissal.
Direct and Formulaic
(i) I’m sorry but …
(i) I’m happy to say that …
(f) We regret to inform you that …
(f) We have pleasure in announcing that …
Use of Slang
(i) He had to get some money out of a hole in the wall …
(f) He withdrew the amount from an ATM.
Personal form & nominators
(i) If you lose it, then please contact us as soon as possible.
(f) Any loss of this document should be reported immediately …
Linking words
(i) The bank can’t find the payment you say you’ve made.
(f) Notwithstanding that the payment has been sent the bank fails to acknowledge it.
Revitalised Sentences
(i) Anybody or any company.
(f) … any natural person who, and any legal entity which …
Modal usage
(i) If you need any help give us a call.
(f) Should you require any assistance, please feel free to contact us …
Singular & Plural Person
(i) I can help you to solve this problem. Call me!
(f) We can assist in the resolution of this matter. Contact us on our toll-free number.
Dictionary of Formal and Informal English
About …
Agree with …
Bearing in mind
Because …
Careful / Cautious
Carry out
Fill me in
Find out
Get in touch
Go over
Has to be
Have to give
If …
If … or not.
If you don't …
If you've got any questions …
In accordance with …
In the red
Make sure
Put in writing
Regarding / Concerning …
Be bound by …
As well as …
Reference being made to …
As a result of / due to (the fact) …
While / Whereas
Inform / Tell
Duly observe
Shall be
Should …
Whether … or not.
Failing / Failure to…
Should you have any queries …
Pursuant to
Inadvertently mislaid
Several / Numerous
Provide written confirmation
We regret …
Take away
We don't want to do this …
We'll call the law …
When we get …
Whenever we like …
Write (e.g. Cheque)
Active Voice
Phrasal Verbs
Direct Language
Possible use of Slang
Personal Form
Little use of Conjunctions
Few Revitalised Sentences
Direct Style
1st Person Singular
This a course of action we are anxious to avoid …
We will have no alternative but involving our legal …
On receipt
Without prior notice …
Issue (e.g. Cheque)
Shown / Indicated
Passive Voice
Latinate Verbs
Formulaic Language
No use of Slang
Linking Words
Revitalised Sentences
Modal Usage
1st Person Plural