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

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5
votes
2answers
2k views

These ones/those ones/the other ones

I came across the following sentence: This is the only type of command that requires us to complete by a certain time - all of the other ones aren't governed by exclusion logic. I am intrigued ...
6
votes
1answer
9k views

Expressing contentment about receiving a letter

Someone wrote to me. I'm writing him back. I want to say, in formal speech, that I'm glad that he wrote to me. How do I do that? I guess I can just say "I'm glad to hear from you" but maybe you could ...
5
votes
2answers
23k views

What is the correct greeting to use in a formal email addressed to a department/team/company?

If the email were to be addressed to a specific person, you could write "Dear [Name]". But is it appropriate to write "Dear [Team / Department / Company]"? For example, "Dear Service Desk," and "...
3
votes
1answer
336 views

Is “sophisticated” appropriate in formal documents?

In German the word sophisticated is sometimes used as Anglicism in order to describe a very fashionable person, e.g. carrying a dog in a handbag ("It-Girl"). However, when looking up the word in a ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Should contractions be avoided in formal emails?

In a formal email of the kind where you begin with "Dear Mr. Surname" and finish with "Best regards", for example, should we use the following contractions? Or are the non contracted forms more ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

The times they are a-changin'

I have always been intrigued by the word usage in the title of this Bob Dylan song. Wikipedia mentions that the song was influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads: Dylan recalled writing the song ...
15
votes
4answers
31k views

What are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?

What is the type of sentence exemplified below called? Is it appropriate to use it in a scientific paper and formal written English in general? 1. The more pronounced the variation, the more the ...
6
votes
2answers
793 views

Use “whom” in emails?

Assume for a moment that an author does know how to use whom correctly. In an email (specifically), does using whom correctly make the author sound stuffy and formal, or would you say that in email, ...
9
votes
4answers
748k views

What is the *best* way to express that an email contains an attachment? [closed]

I'm wondering what is the best way to express that an email contains an attachment. I'd like to have a formal example, and an informal example. For example: Is this informal? Attached you can ...
14
votes
7answers
6k views

How do you decide which phrase to use when asking people to repeat what they said?

There are many different ways to ask people to repeat what they have just said. For example: Huh? What? Sorry? Pardon? What's that? Say that again, please I beg your pardon? I've ordered them ...
5
votes
5answers
501 views

How dangerous is the acceptance of common usage on traditional English?

I mean how far should we flow on with the current called "common usage"? Is there a fear that the real English is going do disappear someday? By the way, as for me, I like common English myself. :)
8
votes
3answers
4k views

“So long as” vs. “as long as”

Which phrase is more formal — "so long as" or "as long as"? Example: So long as Google Voice allows free long distance in North America, I will use it. As long as Google Voice allows free ...
35
votes
6answers
83k views

Which is correct: “prefer X to Y” or “prefer X over Y”?

Many say that "prefer X to Y" has a more formal ring to it than "prefer X over Y". Are there any dialects where you wouldn't use "prefer X to Y" in colloquial speech at all? Conversely, are there any ...
3
votes
4answers
22k views

Formal way to wish good morning

I am not a native English speaker, the source of my learning is books, websites and of course movies and music. In the movie — if I remember the name correctly — The Last Samurai, I heard that they ...
47
votes
5answers
17k views

Alternatives to “and/or”?

As a programmer, I have no problem with seeing or using "and/or" in technical documentation. For example, I can upvote an answer that satisfies me and/or mark it as accepted. That's perfectly ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

“just because… doesn't mean…”

It appears to me that the construction "just because… doesn't mean…" isn't used in literature at all. Is its use limited to colloquial speech and informal writing? Note that while some people seem to ...
5
votes
5answers
14k views

Why is “ain't” not listed in dictionaries?

Google finds 52,000,000 matches for ain't but non-natives simply can't look up this word. Wiktionary isn't helpful. Is it some kind of 'wildcard' for "am/is/are not"?
9
votes
16answers
4k views

Informal terms for money amounts

What informal terms are used in English as money amounts? I know the following US terms and I'm curious about the rest: a grand: 1000 dollars a buck: 1 dollar
9
votes
3answers
5k views

“Pretty” as an adverb

How correct/common/proper is "pretty" as an adverb? It is hard for me to see, since it's my native dialect, but I say "pretty often" pretty often, and "fairly often" fairly rarely. Does "pretty" mark ...
6
votes
6answers
13k views

“Important” and “significant”

"Important" and "significant" seems to be very close in meaning when denoting that something matters much. But am I right in thinking that "important" is less formal word than "significant"? And ...
81
votes
20answers
500k views

Which expressions can be used to close an email? [closed]

At the end of written communication like emails and letters, it is customary to use a closing valediction or "complementary close". Which formal and informal expressions can be used to end emails?
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Are “betwixt”, “trebble”, etc., acceptable in American English?

I grew up speaking British English. The words I learnt were occasionally marked off in papers, despite their being English words. Are words like betwixt, trebble, learnt acceptable in papers for ...