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

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14
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a case where “of the clock” is more appropriate then “o'clock”?

In formal papers, I've always been told to avoid contractions, but unlike "do not" versus "don't", I don't think that I have ever heard "of the clock" spoken aloud. Is there a case (aside from time ...
3
votes
1answer
104 views

Is there a formal way of referring to the Somebody Else's Problem field, as described in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

For those who have not read the book in question, a Somebody Else's Problem field is typically a problem that is so unbelievable that its easier to just ignore it rather than to address it. For ...
-1
votes
1answer
112 views

Grammaticality and formality of “When can I call you?” [closed]

When can I call you. ...does it make sense? Shall I use this for formal talk? Please help me as I have used the same sentence when I called HR. Need your input on this
-10
votes
2answers
228 views

Four-letter word riddle [closed]

A word has four letters, yet if you remove the first letter, the pronunciation doesn't change. What is the word?
7
votes
5answers
993 views

Serious word for 'a bad guy'

I was trying to raise awareness of XSS attacks on a website, by launching a harmless XSS attack and showing the follow message if users fell for it: IT WAS AN XSS ATTACK! HAD IT BEEN MADE BY ...
0
votes
1answer
227 views

What's the formal way to say “get to know”? [closed]

For example in the sentence "Hereby I express my pleasure ... you on behalf of ABC Company."
0
votes
2answers
61 views

“Take a break of unknown duration” in formal language

I would like to express the following idea in a more fashionable and eloquent manner: leave on a break of unknown duration / take a break... / leave on hiatus... Use of the highest linguistic ...
0
votes
2answers
75 views

Formal substituion of “along this line of thinking”? [closed]

I am writing a scientific paper, where I need to express "along this line of thinking". The scenario is Existing literature suggests that A is rather likely to cause B. Along this line of ...
0
votes
2answers
31 views

“Person with a trauma” or “person with trauma”

In academic writing, I frequently run across texts where the determiner is dropped when a person is described as having a medical condition or having suffered an injury. Moreover, a singular noun is ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

“Right up one's alley?” Formal/in-formal?

Is "Right up my alley" formal enough to use in a cover letter/job application etc? If not, are there any alternative idioms? It sounded right to me and I was just about to use it in a formal ...
0
votes
2answers
167 views

“Looks like” in more formal way [closed]

I want to write It looks like I misunderstood Berta's explanation But in more formal way. Thanks
0
votes
1answer
219 views

What does this vulgar expression mean?

I found several mentions, only online, and have no idea what this means. But obviously people repeat this phrase, so they mean something particular. Here is one example: It is still morning here ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

What is the origin of “sewn up”?

As in a guaranteed thing. For example, "Bill has twice the sales of anyone else on the floor so the sales competition is pretty well sewn up." I've tried to think of various metaphors it could be ...
0
votes
1answer
99 views

Saying “thank you” when something is taken from you, or when you take something from someone? [closed]

Often, when I am visiting some sort of community event where there is a large group of people, each person of the group may be given something to look at, or to reference to throughout the event. For ...
2
votes
1answer
76 views

Are there linguistic markers that indicate to subordinates a desire to be addressed less formally

It's a bit of a shame that Is "pal" too informal when the other person is much older than me? was closed, as it dabbles in a difficult topic for all non-native speakers of English. Although ...
0
votes
4answers
307 views

Can I write “Kindly let me know openly”, finishing a letter?

What I want to do is to ask politely for feedback - including feedback that might be left out because it has negative aspects. So I want to ask the addressee not to ignore or suppress problems because ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there a term for ascribing acts of the human mind to non-human objects, and when is it appropriate to do this?

Nota bene: English isn't my native language, so when I say acts of the human mind, I attempt to generalize things such as making assumptions, drawing conclusions and (to some extent) to reject. To me ...
8
votes
1answer
772 views

Is the word “dear” used as a word to show affection or for official use in India?

Quite a few times now, from my working with Indians, I've had most of them refer to me as "Dear". A common occurrence is when I am chatting on social media or speaking on the phone. Though where I ...
0
votes
0answers
12 views

Question on use that or not [duplicate]

It's a formal email to a client, My question is should I use with or without that to make it formal. This is to confirm that we are ready to purchase the items as discussed. This is to confirm, we ...
2
votes
2answers
86 views

When should I use “all in”?

I learned that "all in" is an informal way to say exhausted. Is it more common to say "I am exhausted" or to use "I am all in"?
1
vote
2answers
83 views

Replacement For “Drive Someone Nuts” [closed]

In the expression to drive someone nuts, I studied that it's possible to replace the word nuts with words like: bananas, crazy, insane, bonkers, ... I'd like to know is this expression polite? If it ...
8
votes
9answers
2k views

What quality does a person lack who cannot understand another's point of view?

I am looking for a non-slang, non-colloquial word - a word that I can use when speaking to a professional therapist/counselor, to be exact. Another way to ask this question might be "What quality ...
2
votes
2answers
181 views

How to use title in salutation, when recepient's name is unknown

I'm sending a formal letter to an adjudicator but do not know his or her name. What would be the most appropriate salutation? Dear Adjudicator: Dear adjudicator: Dear sir or madam: To whom it may ...
1
vote
4answers
176 views

More formal alternative for “get a handle on sth.”

In a text I am writing (paper in the sciences), I find I would like to use the phrase “In order to get a handle on this problem, …”, but it seems a little informal. The intended meaning is “gain a ...
-1
votes
2answers
35 views

Cite authors or inform the reader that these guys made it?

I writing a research paper in which I want to say that Paul Viola and Michael Jones (authors behind a framework) made this framework. What is the more formal way of saying this?
3
votes
10answers
954 views

More formal synonym of “bullshit artist”?

I need more formal ways to express three related terms: bullshit artist, BS-ing, and the art of BS-ing. Edit -- providing some context: The type of BS I need to talk about is the kind that ...
2
votes
0answers
103 views

How to politely say to sellers in stores that you don't need help? [closed]

This happens quite often. You're at a store, and while looking for clothes sellers come over and ask if you need any help. And since my English is far away from normal English I just use what I know ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Formal alternative to the phrase 'Not taken seriously' [closed]

I'm writing a legal essay and the sentence is For example, a young person’s reluctance to seek redress, and that youth are often not taken seriously, their words often not repeated in court rooms. ...
0
votes
0answers
68 views

Asking a boss to be if agreement still holds?

I'm awaiting for my employment contract to arrive, which is one week overdue. How do I ask my employer to be if our agreement made over the phone is still in force without looking annoying or ...
0
votes
2answers
51 views

Is “fellow course members” formal

If one enters "fellow course members" In Google one only gets 8k+ hits. It is correct? And a formal way to describe people that took the same course you did? If not, what is? Is there some ...
1
vote
0answers
222 views

Professional Engineering-related Business Letter

For one of my Engineering Courses, I had to write a professional Business Letter to inform my hypothetical employer of my analysis about two alternatives, and which one of them is better. For this ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Is the statement ending with “for” considered proper? [duplicate]

What would be a better and more formal way out of the two below: The capability was not catered for. or We did not cater for this capability. Or perhaps these are fully interchangeable?
3
votes
3answers
305 views

Formal alternatives for: “There is not a need”

I am writing a formal technical report and I would like some advice about an expression I want to use. I have a sentence which I want to make more formal: The merit of their approach is that ...
1
vote
1answer
105 views

“Top 1 %” or “99th percentile” for formal usage?

Which is more formal (i.e. on a resume), "top 1%" or "99th percentile." ?
1
vote
2answers
111 views

Formalities calling work colleagues, clients an partners as Pal/Pals

In my work we have a collaborative tool for work interaction where we debate things like workflow and issues. I'm in a interaction with workmates, client employees and partners. I thought to reference ...
18
votes
5answers
3k views

Is the lowercase pronoun “i” a feature of Indian English?

The Rule The personal pronoun “I” is always capitalized in English, regardless of its position in a sentence. This is an orthographic convention that every native speaker should know. Whenever I ...
2
votes
3answers
621 views

closing words for e-mail to person with incurable disease [closed]

What kind of closing words as an alternative to We wish you full and quick recovery can be used in a formal letter when writing to a person with an incurable disease. I/We wish you all the ...
0
votes
1answer
360 views

Using “e.g.” instead of “for example”

I am reviewing a software manual, and I frequently come across sentences like (made-up example): The value is 1, but you can set it to e.g. 100 It seems to me that the use of "e.g." is wrong in ...
0
votes
0answers
83 views

Which terms are used to describe language usage?

When trying to explain the usage of words in French to English speakers, I'm handicapped by my lack of vocabulary to describe when words are used. Looking in dictionaries for the French terms give me ...
2
votes
5answers
146 views

Verb in active voice for “being penetrated”

The context is sexual and the example, straightforward: providing an alternative to "a man's penis penetrates a woman's vagina" where the female organ is the subject of the sentence, and using a verb ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

usage of dissimilar

This sentence is grammatically correct. But does it make sense to use word dissimilar to avoid repetition of different here? the results would be absolutely dissimilar if there is any slight ...
0
votes
2answers
76 views

What should I use in this case: “despite”, “though,” or “even though”?

That way my mom can move on, find someone else, despite having sworn she'd only marry God." That way my mom can move on, find someone else, though she swore she'd only marry God." ...
0
votes
1answer
533 views

using are to name but a few

In a very formal writing style, Is it fine to use to name but a few in a separate sentence? There are a lot of algorithms to do hashing. MD5, SHA1 and CRC are to name but a few.
1
vote
2answers
353 views

Starting a Sentence with a Conjunction [duplicate]

My high school English teacher taught us to never start a sentence with conjunctions, but throughout the years I have seen a lot of such usage in academic writings and novels. I have also read various ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

What's an alternative for “hidden gem”?

Hidden gems is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about; for example, Blame It on Rio by Stanley Donen is a good movie, but relatively unknown ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

“A single thing” as one and only thing?

"the new design allows a single car to be used as both truck and bus" "two people can use a single computer at the same time" Can a single thing used like that to emphasize that only one thing is ...
-1
votes
1answer
445 views

formal way of asking help & information [closed]

i want to write an email to professor to get an information about result of shortlisted candidates in university. what is formal way to ask him to "let me know".
1
vote
2answers
111 views

What is the informal phrase to compare two difficult tasks

To give you the context, let's say you are moving house. Packing stuff is a difficult job as well as moving them to the new place. In my mother language, if I translate it word by word, we say: ...
-1
votes
2answers
3k views

A more polite/formal way of saying “contact us, we will get back to you” [duplicate]

I'm doing some language correction for my mom's company website. While my English is much better than hers, I'm not a native speaker, and I've never really focused on business English in my studies. ...
-1
votes
2answers
156 views

Is there a word in English that essentially means “I” or “we” in formal context?

In Swedish there is a word, "undertecknad", which would refer the author of a piece of text. It is an expression used in formal context when you try to objectify yourself (and avoid saying "I") out of ...