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Formal v Informal English – American English with Camille

Learn the differences between speaking formally and informally in this video!

I am Camille, and I try to teach you English in a fun and authentic way.

What is formal and informal English?

Formal English is a more serious English that we use at work, a job interview, with somebody that’s older than us, and you often see it in books, in writing as well. Informal English, is everything else. It’s slang, phrasal verbs, common expressions, text messaging. We use informal English with our friends, and then you also hear it on TV series as well.

With formal English, the sentences are longer and more complex and with informal English, it’s a lot of slang like I mentioned, or expressions. So formal English can help you create a good first impression especially for work or a job, and it can also help you to improve your reading and writing skills since most books or articles, all of that is written in informal English. And also, it can help increase your confidence in the work place as well.

So here are some tips for sounding more more formal.

You can change the casual words or the phrasal verbs in sentences, just swap them out with more formal words.

  • Instead of using show, say to demonstrate. This graph demonstrates the importance of drug screening tests.
  • Instead of saying sorry, say I apologize. I apologize for any technical difficulty that you may be having on your end.
  • Instead of saying good for, use the word beneficial. Taking a daily multivitamin is beneficial for your health.

There are hundreds of words that you can do to just swap out casual informal English and make it more formal.

Always avoid abbreviations in writing, even words like TV, write television, or cell, write cell phone, or instead of pic write photo. So write out the words and that goes as well with texting. Never use emojis, or lol, you could actually just say, instead of laugh out loud, you would just write that’s so funny. So don’t use abbreviations, don’t use emojis when trying to write a formal letter or a text message.

When writing letters, always start off with ‘dear‘, because it sounds more formal and always end with sincerely, and your name. Those are two ways to instantly make a letter more formal. You also want to avoid contractions. She has decided to accept the job. You want to write out “She has“, instead of “She’s decided”. So if you can always write out both of the words, you’ll instantly sound more formal as well. For example, informal again would be, I wasn’t aware of the current weather situation. And formal, I was not aware of the current weather situation. It’s also worth noting that formal speech is always slower, slower, it’s communicated more slowly, which is a good thing for you, if you’re a language learner.

Let’s take a look at a couple of sentences, formal versus informal.

  • If you hear someone say, Good evening, how are you? That would be more formal, hey, how’s it going. Informal.
  • I would like to express my gratitude for your kind gesture. This is formal. Thanks for the flowers, that is informal.
  • Due to unexpected damages, the hotel pool, will be closed until further notice, formal. The informal could be something like the pool got ruined and it’s closed down.

So you can feel the difference between formal and informal, and let’s just a little review.

For formal speech,

  • Speak slowly
  • Speak more clearly
  • Enunciate your words
  • Don’t use abbreviations
  • Don’t use contractions
  • Don’t use emojis
  • Change your casual words to more formal words, and by following all of these tips, you’ll automatically be speaking more formally.

Now, I am going to to do a list of 30 informal versus formal words.

  • By
  • Lead To
  • Also
  • Go On
  • In Charge Of
  • Dırty 
  • Put Off
  • Keep
  • Anyways
  • Let
  • Laid Back
  • Take Out
  • Ask
  • Book
  • Start
  • End 
  • Tough
  • Explain
  • Go Up
  • Smart
  • Bıg
  • Speed Up
  • Brave
  • Talk About
  • Go Through
  • Choose
  • Come In
  • Find Out
  • Go Before
  • Tired
  • By Means Of
  • Cause
  • In Addition
  • Continue
  • Responsible
  • Contaminated
  • Postpone
  • Preserve
  • Nevertheless
  • Permit
  • Relaxed
  • Remove
  • Enquire
  • Reserve
  • Commence
  • Terminate
  • Difficult
  • Disclose
  • Increase
  • Intelligent
  • Enormous
  • Accelerate
  • Courageous
  • Discuss
  • Examine
  • Selecet
  • Enter
  • Discover
  • Precede
  • Exhausted

 I hope that by now you can see some differencesbetween informal and formal English. Thank you so much for reading this blog. I wish you all a wonderful day. Tchau, ciao.


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Camille Hanson

Hi friends! I'm Camille. I create engaging American English content for ESL people around the world. When I am not creating videos, books or blogs, you will probably find me in a cafe somewhere around the world, studying my next target language or at home cooking up food for my family of five. Stick around, read some posts and learn some English with me :) Tchau, ciao! ~Camille
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