This tag is for questions regarding formal, versus informal words and usage.

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2
votes
6answers
28k views

More formal way to say “just in case”

I thought "provisionally" was what I was looking for, as in: "As a provisional measure, I'd like someone with Volkswagen Corporate to follow up with me next week." What I really mean is: "Just in ...
2
votes
3answers
767 views

Is “non-freedom” correct?

I need to write something like Students were silenced because of social media posts: a case of non-freedom. That isn't the exact context, but I need to know if non-freedom is correct.
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Meaning of “No, yes …”

I'm not sure if this is something only Americans say, but it has confused me for a long time. If someone is asked a question why do some people respond with something like, "No, yes it was"? What does ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Appropriate use of “app” vs “application”

Can app serve as an accepted abbreviation for application in formal contexts? Is there some context where app is more accepted (for example, when talking about mobile applications)?
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Confusion over “family name” in English: What about double-barrelled last names? [closed]

How do you fill out an official form in English that asks for just one last name when you instead have a surname which comprises more than one word? I currently live in a Latin country, where we ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the singular “they” acceptable in formal writing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)? I am linking to this post for reference. ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it okay to start a sentence with a Greek letter (variable)?

Is it okay to start a sentence with a variable? Do I need to rewrite a sentence just because the subject is typeset as a Greek letter? For example: Φ is treated in a special way. vs. ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a “hens party” and where is this phrase commonly used?

Where does the term come from, where in the world is the term used? I came across the usage in this article, with this paragraph as quoted: Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Does “flattered” have a negative meaning in this context?

When I finished my business trip, my customer unexpectedly invited me to his home for dinner. Can I say "I am flattered" to show my unexpectation of their kindness? And what else can I say in this ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

What is the formal way of expressing 1990s?

How do you express the last decade of 20th century in formal written English? "1990s"? If the century is known from the context, can you simply say "the nineties"? As in: "The involvement of US in ...
2
votes
3answers
9k views

Use of “of course” in technical writing

Can of course be used in technical writing? I heard that it is used typically in informal writing. I am not sure though. For example, The existing scheduling techniques work well on a mix of ...
1
vote
2answers
247 views

Addressing a person with “man”

Is there any issue to address or call a person (a gentleman, of course) with man? I think the word man has a strange meaning. Which is the best way to address? Is hello enough?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Difference between “thesis” and “dissertation” [closed]

Is there a difference between thesis and dissertation in a British academic context? I saw that thesis was more used at Masters level while dissertation at PhD level but would like a confirmation.
5
votes
2answers
17k views

I'd rather not [do something] vs I'd prefer not to [do something]

In this question the issue came up as to whether there's any difference in the level of politeness/correctness involved in I'd rather not say as opposed to I'd prefer not to say. My own gut feeling ...
4
votes
3answers
757 views

In which way is /dɑːtə/ more formal than /deɪtə/?

Wiktionary lists two different UK pronunciations of data: /deɪtə/ (UK, US) /dɑːtə/ (Australia, UK formal) Under what kind of circumstances would the /ɑː/ sound be used? Which ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Are sentences that have multiple “WH Question” words considered grammatical?

Are sentences that have multiple "WH Question" words considered grammatical ? For example, is the following sentence grammatical: Tomorrow, where are we meeting at what time to do what ?
3
votes
2answers
713 views

Is “grab” an informal way of saying “learn”?

I am writing to someone who is a sort of respectful person and I wanted to form a sentence such as below and I am wondering if using grab instead of learn or get is informal and looks odd. I'd ...
11
votes
8answers
50k views

More formal way to say “follow up”

I am writing a formal letter and want to say "I am following up with you regarding..." but I need to say it more formally.
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Can we use “what the heck” in formal contexts to denote a more friendly environment?

I see in many movies bad words are censored or simply replaced by a beep sound. But the expression what the heck is not censored and you can hear it clearly. You can also see that this expression is ...
5
votes
4answers
63k views

Does the phrase “who's in?” or “I'm in!” exist in (informal) English?

I really think I've heard it in some American sitcom/sitcoms, meaning something like participating in. "I want to play football. Who's in?" — "Great idea, I'm in!" Does it really exist, or am I wrong? ...
39
votes
13answers
213k views

More formal way of saying: “Sorry to bug you again about this, but …”

I was wondering if there was a more formal and polite way of saying: Sorry to bug you again about this, but we still have not received a response about X .... (if we still have not received any ...
9
votes
6answers
51k views

Formal way to tell someone they accidentally sent you someone else’s email?

I have received an email from someone at work. He’s quite senior and probably would get quite angry to get an “accusing” message like: I wasn’t supposed to get this email. It looks like you sent ...
2
votes
1answer
593 views

Expression “if and when something happens”

What is the level of formality in the expression “if and when” while referring to a possible happening? Googling “if and when X happen” gives me all sorts of entries, some formal some clearly ...
2
votes
3answers
321 views

What is the difference between “an essay on something” and “an essay in something”?

In most cases you write "an essay on something" but recently I came across some "essays in something" Is there a difference in meaning? Is the "in" more formal?
1
vote
1answer
204 views

In what sense do we use “carry a torch for”? [closed]

In what sense do we use "carry a torch for"? Can it be used as a formal, or is it informal?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Is “a lot of” used generally in English, or is it colloquial?

I find a lot of people in Holland think 'a lot of' is too colloquial for use in academic work. Is that the case?
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Is “I'm dead serious” formal?

In a movie I heard an actor saying "I'm dead serious". I looked up the dictionary and found that "dead" in this context means "really". Is it formal? Can we use it in business meetings?
4
votes
6answers
25k views

“By the way” in formal writing

Can I say "By the way" in an official document or professional meeting and other important/formal times? I never saw any film which would include these words.
11
votes
4answers
2k views

When did the U.S. President become “Mr. X” instead of “President X”?

When I was much younger, I remember the press always referred to the U.S. president using the title of the office: "President Nixon" was followed by "President Ford" then "President Carter". Now that ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

What does “ain't” mean?

What does the contraction ain't mean? Is it appropriate to use it in formal settings?
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Is an ampersand formal?

I've noticed that there are many companies whose names contain an ampersand. A quick Google search for "& Sons, Inc", or something similar, should yield countless examples. Though it's not ...
3
votes
2answers
263 views

Is the “How to … ?” question phrase acceptable?

Is the following sentence acceptable in semi-formal or formal written speech? How to adopt a lifestyle that consumes less? Or ought it be rephrased? For example, to the following? How do I ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Should we avoid using words that have alternate offensive meaning [closed]

There are many English words that could be used to refer to something innocent that also has a common slang meaning, such as pussy, ass, bitch, etc. For convenience' sake, should we avoid using ...
22
votes
4answers
49k views

“you” versus “You” as polite form of writing

Is it correct to write "You" with a capital Y as a form of politeness? If yes, should I use that form throughout the entire letter/document, or only at specific places?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

'Therefore' in an illogical logic sense

I have a co-worker that is always saying "Therefore, A B C" when the "A B C" isn't a conclusion from any sort of deductive reasoning. For example, Me: ... thus, that's how it works. Her: I ...
22
votes
4answers
45k views

What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

Casual writing to express that someone is thinking of something?

In casual writing we often use the colon to express that people are talking. Example: Tom: hi Mary: hi I'm wondering what about if it is Tom thought of something instead of Tom talking? Like ...
2
votes
3answers
58k views

Is it appropriate to use 'eagerly' while ending a formal e-mail

Nowadays, I always use the following phrase when I am ending formal email; I eagerly await for your response. Regards, I've seen this phrase somewhere, kind-of a formal e-mail and I am ...
3
votes
6answers
1k views

Is “Lingo” appropriate in a formal context?

Is the word "Lingo" appropriate in a formal context? It sounds much more professional to me than "jargon", but I still have it in the back of my mind that it is slang. Is there a synonym that would ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What does this use of “carpeted” mean?

I partially understand based on the background and context, but I've never seen it used this way before. Can someone provide the full meaning of carpeted in this context and also tell me if it is a ...
0
votes
1answer
517 views

Is it okay to make up your own words at times? [closed]

Let's say you're writing an essay and you want to convey a message as concisely as possible with a time-constraint on your hands, and you don't really get the right words. Is it okay to make up words ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “let us” always be used in place of “let's”?

Me: Perhaps we need to make a left turn at Albuquerque Him: Let us try that Now I would have said, "Let's try that". "Let us" sounds wrong to me in this instance. Is it? Are there ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

“Certificate of residence” vs. “certificate of residency”

Certificate of residence vs. certificate of residency — which one to use, when and why? Please quote a reputable source.
0
votes
1answer
7k views

How to use “supposed to”, in particular while writing official letter to ask for leave

How do we use supposed to? In particular, should I use this while writing an official letter to ask for leave?
10
votes
4answers
13k views

What's the difference between orthography and spelling?

The terms "spelling" and "orthography" seem to be largely synonymous. What is the difference really? Is it that "orthography" is a more formal or technical term and hence more well-defined? Or is it ...
7
votes
2answers
519 views

Is it acceptable to use “just as well” in an academic paper

The title pretty much sums it up: is it permissible to use the words "just as well" in a formal academic paper? For instance: The exchange might just as well have taken place in Abu Dhabi.
1
vote
3answers
12k views

Is it acceptable to use a tilde symbol to sign your name? [closed]

Should the tilde symbol (~) be used to sign your name? It seems quite commonplace on Internet forums but I don't believe I've ever seen it used in books.
5
votes
5answers
3k views

Has “may” become a formal version of “can”?

When I went to school I was taught that when asking for something you use "may I (have/do something)". "Can" was used only when asking if you are "physically capable" of something. These days I have ...
1
vote
4answers
5k views

“How be you” or “How are you”?

I have never heard the phrase "How be you?" until yesterday, and started arguing that this was incorrect and that the correct phrase is "How are you?". My friend's reply was "This is how it's taught ...
9
votes
5answers
14k views

Is using “and/or” recommended for formal writing, or is it frowned upon?

Is using "and/or" allowed in formal writing? If not, is there general way to represent the OR binary operator with as little space as possible in written English?