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

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5
votes
7answers
906 views

What is a more refined & formal way to say 'we eat our own dog-food'?

In some formal communication, I would like to use that phrase to indicate how reliable my product is, because we use it on a regular basis, and thus serve as a reassurance.
5
votes
2answers
620 views

Please accept this intimation

What does the phrase "accept this intimation" mean in the context of a funeral notice? Is it appropriate to use when announcing the consecration (Unveiling in the Jewish ritual) of a tombstone?
0
votes
2answers
520 views

Informal use of the title 'sir'

I would like to hear from the forum regarding the use of 'sir' in American literature, such as 'The Manhattan Transfer' by Dos Passos published in 1923. In the Italian translation it is given in the ...
-1
votes
1answer
174 views

Reminder of promised resource [closed]

Someone promised me a resource and I haven't received it yet. I am tired of waiting so I would like to remind this person that he/she promised me something and ask about the situation. My question is ...
3
votes
3answers
10k views

1st or 3rd person in CV/résumé? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it normal in English to talk about oneself in the third person in these cases? I’m currently preparing my CV in English. I’m not a native English speaker, and I ...
1
vote
2answers
265 views

“Institution”, “body” or “organ”

I'm a non-native speaker active in a labor union that does not use English internally. The union has a representative assembly (made up of representatives of branches), whose existence is mandated by ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “embiggen” considered a formal or slang word?

If my memory serves me correctly, I first encountered the word embiggen a year or so ago. I thought it seemed odd, but in context, the meaning was quite obvious. Since that time I've seen this word ...
2
votes
2answers
740 views

Addressing Professors: Between Dr. and a hard place

Early in my (academic) life, I was told that it is appropriate to address a faculty as Professor only when he/she possesses the full Professorial rank and I would be better off addressing Assistant ...
4
votes
3answers
965 views

A negative person [closed]

What is the best word that I could use to describe a person that seems to attract negative situations? Every time I am around him/her, something bad always seems to happen. Is there a word to describe ...
0
votes
3answers
414 views

How common is “What happened?” when asking people to repeat what they said? How long has this been in common usage?

For several years, I have heard most young people and some adults use the phrase What happened? when they do not hear what is spoken. It appears to be used where previously several other phrases were ...
4
votes
3answers
11k views

What is a more formal way to say “Don't get me wrong”?

I think the phrase "Don't get me wrong" in conversation means, "I'm about to say something that you might misunderstand, so don't." I'm looking for a similar phrase that sounds better when speaking ...
4
votes
5answers
482 views

What's a more formal name for a “third” party?

Two parties are trying to resolve some dispute that involves interest of both. Sometimes it's hard for them to reach an agreement on a fair basis. This is typically when another party who has no ...
11
votes
4answers
38k views

What is the male equivalent of “mistress” in formal English?

The mistress definition, Oxford dictionary a woman having an extramarital sexual relationship, esp. with a married man I am looking for the male equivalent of 'mistress' as defined above. Some ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

How many articles should go in “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”?

On the very first Christmas card it was written as "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/christmas-card-sayings-and-phrases.html In Wiktionary that same ...
10
votes
2answers
152k views

Formally introducing yourself in an email

I am composing an email to a work associate who I have never had any dealings with before. I'm struggling to think of a formal yet succinct way of introducing myself. In person, I would probably say: ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

A question of informal punctuation: How do you correctly end a sentence with 'haha'?

What is the best way to end an informal sentence (such as a text or over Facebook chat) with haha? Consider the following options: It's always bugged me haha It's always bugged me haha. ...
4
votes
4answers
497 views

When proper usage impedes communication

This question may be moderated as unanswerable, but I am interested in opinions. Take this scenario: Most people I know will improperly correct "The ball belongs to John and me." to "The ball belongs ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Posting a letter and sending it via e-mail

I am sending a formal letter to a recipient by registered post and e-mail. Is it convention to include within the e-mail/PDF such text like: "As sent via post on " or something similar to inform the ...
4
votes
0answers
109 views

Is there a U.S. equivalent or version of the Plain English Campaign? [closed]

I recently found out about the Plain English Campaign, a UK-based movement for simplification of document language. They advocate the use of plain English in corporate-to-consumer and ...
0
votes
2answers
547 views

Are there clear differences in formality of words between British-English and American-English [closed]

I wonder if there are any clear distinctions regarding using formal words in British-English and in American-English. Do American and English people use different words when for instance asking a ...
1
vote
5answers
8k 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
326 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
608 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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
1k 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
1k 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. ...
7
votes
2answers
758 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. ...
3
votes
1answer
3k 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
1k 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
612 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
4k 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
108 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
755 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.
4
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
534 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
781 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
366 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
12k 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.
2
votes
1answer
562 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
33k 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? ...
30
votes
13answers
86k 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
9k 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
323 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
271 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
175 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
813 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?
2
votes
3answers
2k 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?
0
votes
6answers
6k 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
869 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “ain't” mean?

What does the contraction ain't mean? Is it appropriate to use it in formal settings?