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Formal and Informal English Words/Phrases Actually, there are no specific definitions about formal and informal words/phrase because it is absolutely back to the definition of differences between formal and informal English that has been explained before. But, formal and informal English words/phrases can be identified based on the tips below: 1. More read. You will learn to associate certain words and phrases with different types of writing. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Most uses of get are informal. In general phrasal verbs are informal. Contractions are always informal. Many idioms are informal. Most shortened words are informal. If you have a dictionary that provides the etymology of a word, Latin and French root words usually are more formal than Germanic or old English root words. Redman (2003:200) gives examples of formal and informal words/phrases in sentences based on the places and situations: Examples of formal English phrases: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Notice in cafe: Only food purchase (=bought) here may be eaten on the premises. Police statement: I apprehended (=caught) the accused outside the supermarket. Theatre announcement: They play will commence (=start) in the two minutes. Business meeting: The meeting will resume (=start again) this afternoon at 2 pm. Lawyers in court: My client had a broken ankle, thus (=so) he couldnt drive the car.


Business letter: I regret to inform you (Im sorry to say) that we are unable to... (=cant).

7. 8.

Notice: If you require (=need) further assistance (more help) please contact... Airport announcement: Will passenger for Miami please proceed to (=go to) gate 36.

Example of informal English phrases: 1. I had to go and pick up (=collect) the kids (=children) from school. 2. I reckon (=think) well get (=receive/obtain) the money pretty (=quite) soon. 3. Im just going to the loo. (=toilet). 4. Do you fancy going out? (= Would you like to go out?) 5. I managed to fix up (=arrange/make) an appointment for 7.30. 6. My flat is very handy for the shops. (near the shop and very convenient) 7. I thought the book was terrific. (=marvelous) 8. Most of the students are bright (=intelligent) but Paul is very thick. (=stupid) 9. Whats up? (=whats the matter?) 10. We must get in touch with them (=contact them) very soon. 11. When we get to (=reach/arrive) the hotel, Ill have a word with (=speak to) them. 12. I offered him ten quid (=pounds) but the gay (=man) wasnt interested. 13. A: Heres the book I promised you. B: Oh, cheers (=thank you. It can also mean good bye.) 14. Did you bring your bike? (bicycle?) Those are the examples of formal and informal words/phrases. The words/phrases must be remembered by us. To make it easier, here is the dictionary of formal and





to Table 5 Dictionary of Formal & Informal English Type Prep Idiom Conj. Idiom Conj. Verb Conj. Adj. Verb Verb Adj. Verb Verb Verb Verb Verb Verb Verb Verb Conj. Conj. Idiom Idiom Idiom Idiom Verb Idiom Verb Adj. Verb Verb Idiom Idiom Verb Verb Verb Verb Idiom Informal About... Agree with... And... Bearing in mind Because... Begin But Careful/cautious Carry out Check Enough Fill me in Find out Follow Get Get in touch Go over Has to be Have to give If... If... or not. If you dont... If youve got any questions... In accordance with... In the red Involve Verb Make sure Many Order Pay Put in writing Sorry! Supply Take away Tell Trusted We dont want to do this... Formal Regarding/concerning Be bound by... As well as... Reference being made to... As a result of/due to (the fact)... Commence While/whereas Prudential Effect Verify Sufficient Inform/tell Ascertain Duly observe Receive Contact Exceed Shall be Submit Should... Whether or not. Failing/failure to... Should you have any queries... Pursuant to Overdrawn Entail Inadvertently mislaid Ensure Several/numerous Authorize Settle Provide written communication We regret Vanish Withdraw Disclose Entrusted This course of action we anxious to avoid...

Idiom Idiom Idiom Verb Verb

Well call the law... When we get... Whenever we like... Write (e.g. cheque) Written

We will have no alternative but involving our legal... On receipt Without prior notice... Issue (e.g. cheque) Shown/indicated

C. Formal and Informal English Sentences After describing about the differences between formal and informal greetings, words/phrases now we will see the differences between formal and informal English sentences. According to Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2009:57) that: Formal language: 1. He, she, they, in reference to readers. 2. Complete sentences. 3. Compound sentences with phrases and clauses. 4. Complex sentences with frequent use of modifying phrases and clauses. 5. Passive voice. 6. No slang/or colloquialism. 7. Straight news articles and news releases, backgrounders, position statements and editorials. Informal language: 1. You in reference to readers. 2. Single words, phrases, and fragments. 3. Simple sentences in conversational order (subject, verb, object). 4. Dashes and ellipses for incomplete or interrupted thoughts.

5. Active voice. 6. Contractions, slang and/or colloquialism. 7. Feature articles, some columns, newsletter articles, brochures, advertising copy, and broadcast scripts.

Another argument is given by McCarthy, (2009:255) that:

1. Some phrasal verb can be more informal, for example, give up (stop), get out avoid (avoid). 2. People think of some uses of get as informal. Have is more formal than have got. 3. Stuff is very informal word; things sound better in formal situations. 4. Some determiners and expressions such as loads (of) and a bit (of) are informal. 5. People use most + adjective instead of very or really in a formal situation. 6. People use more nouns in very formal and especially written English, where they would use verbs in more informal and spoken English. 7. Conjunctions such as therefore, as a result, and consequently and in order to are more common in formal business language, especially writing. To make it clearer, look at the tables below: Table 6 More formal They wont tolerate another day I received your letter today. We purchased/bought our cars in Belgium. We have several problems. Are these your things here? There are a number of MBAs on our staff. I would be most grateful for your advice. What are your recommendations? More informal They wont put up with another day I got your letter today We got our cars in Belgium. Weve got several problems. Is this your stuff here? There are loads of MBAs on our stuff. Id be very/really grateful for your advice What did you recommend? Well finish the building work

Phrasal verbs Get

Thing/stuff Quantifiers Most Nouns and verbs


In order to/to...

Completion of the building work will be on time. Jens performance has been excellent. Therefore/ As a result/ consequently we recommend her promotion to senior analyst. Staffs were laid off to make savings.

on time. Jens done a great job this year so I think we should promote her to senior analyst.

Staffs were laid off to save money.

Based on the explanation above, there are a lot of the differences between formal and informal English. Those differences make us more understand that language is large, very unique and important to learn.

D. Summary of Differences between Formal and Informal English

Finally, after we see a lot of explanations about formal and informal English, to conclude it let us see on the summary below:

Table 7 Summary of the differences between formal and informal English No 1 2 Formal Used in academic writing/contract letter Used to unfamiliar people (strange people or someone that you respect like teacher or boss) No slang/or colloquialism Complete sentences Passive Voice Latinate Verbs Linking Words Compound sentences phrases and clauses. Informal Used in non-academic writing Used to familiar people (family or close friends)

3 4 5 6 7 8

Contractions, slang and/or colloquialism Single words, phrases, and fragments. Active Voice Phrasal Verbs Little use of Conjunctions with Simple sentences in conversational order (subject, verb, object)

He, she, they, in reference to You in reference to readers readers.