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

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3
votes
3answers
5k views

Usage of 'Hi' and 'Dear' in Formal Communication

I always hesitate using 'Hi' in formal mails. Is it OK to use it like "Hi Sir,..."? Same with 'Dear Junior,...'. Any help would be appreciated.
1
vote
2answers
260 views

Data as a plural noun [duplicate]

In an academic writing, is it correct to make reference to "the data itself", being that data is a plural noun and itself is a singular pronoun?
1
vote
3answers
223 views

How to semi-formally address a senior academic? [closed]

What is a proper way to address a person with the title of a Professor in a way which is less formal than "Dear Professor", but still conveys some respect? For example, suppose I am talking to ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “am” ever proper English without an “I” somewhere before or after it? [duplicate]

For a long time, I have been convinced that the use of the word am without the word I either before or after it is incorrect. For instance, saying Am going all by itself. However, I recently ran a ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the correct use of commas when using the word “attached” [closed]

What is the correct comma use in the following sentence? Per our earlier conversation, attached, please find the document.
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Use “you” or “one” in formal writing?

Sometimes people tell me that I should avoid using "you" in formal writing and insist on telling me to use "one" ("One should not use 'you'" as opposed to "You should not use 'you'"). Are there any ...
0
votes
1answer
5k views

“…that I have not got”, vs. “gotten”? [duplicate]

In such a context as... I have never applied to job that I cannot do, nor to one that I have not gotten. vs. I have never applied to job that I cannot do, nor to one that I have not got. ...
3
votes
3answers
21k views

How do you abbreviate “Government”?

As far as I can tell there are eight ways to abbreviate or write the contracted form "government". gov or Gov gov. or Gov. gov't or Gov't govt. or Govt. (with the full stop/period) Are any of ...
2
votes
2answers
11k views

“Make sure to” vs. “Be sure to”: Is the first one correct?

These two versions below are used interchangeably where I live now in the United States: Make sure to do something. Be sure to do something. But I always have found the first version clumsy. I ...
11
votes
10answers
26k views

“have” vs.“have got” in American and British English

I have looked through several questions and answers on EL&U, and often there is an indication that American English prefers "have" while British English prefers "have got". In addition, there are ...
0
votes
1answer
303 views

When writing a formal report is it bad to make up names when giving an example?

I was giving an example and was trying to immerse the reader in the experience as much as possible and made up a man's name. Consider the following example: Joseph is testing a program built for ...
1
vote
3answers
197 views

Preposition to choose when referring to something from a book

Which would be better to say? He reminds me of Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird. He reminds me of Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird. He reminds me of Dill of To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, ...
2
votes
3answers
7k views

Is the expression “having a good time” too personal?

Me and a colleague were jointly writing an email to an English speaking business partner when a discussion arose on how to formulate a sentence. The business partner is currently on vacation, so I ...
0
votes
2answers
100 views

Can closings be made up or must one of the common ones be used?

There are common closings such as "respectfully", "Best Regards", "Yours truly" etc. but if you have reason to make your own is that allowed or is it more of a formality that is set in stone to used a ...
3
votes
2answers
157 views

How to correctly refer to animal parts as food?

I have found little consistent in how animal parts used as food are named. How can I correctly refer to the tongue of ducks, the necks of ducks, or the ears of pigs? Do you like duck's neck? ...
4
votes
3answers
268 views

Is “maker” less professional than “manufacturer”?

To me as a non-native, maker sounds much less professional than manufacturer or supplier. I.e. an average "piston maker" would probably be much smaller than an average "piston manufacturer" or "piston ...
-2
votes
1answer
553 views

Em dash or colon in formal writing

In formal writing, should I use an em dash The Earth consists of three layers — crust, mantle, and core. or a colon The Earth consists of three layers: crust, mantle, and core. ?
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Salutation for job application [duplicate]

I don't the know the exact receiver for the job.I don't even know the company's name because i found the job position online.I only know the email.How should i start the letter? I read that for that ...
0
votes
0answers
42 views

Should I refer to “one” as “him/her/them”, when the subject is not specified? [duplicate]

I'm writing a formal document, translating it to English, and I need to now how to say this sentence properly: " It allows one to have a voice and endows them with a power that was (...)" I used ...
-1
votes
1answer
792 views

A formal phrasal verb for “continue to stick to their belief”

How do I rewrite the following sentence so it is more formal, using a phrasal verb in place of the part in bold? Despite mounting evidence, they continue to stick to their belief.
3
votes
4answers
7k views

How to reply to a status update for a job application?

I received an email today telling me that I will be notified about next steps for my job application by mid next week. I want to be polite and respond something brief, but since I'm not a native ...
1
vote
2answers
731 views

Comma usage in a letter opening [duplicate]

My colleague and I disagree on how to open a letter; he believes you should separate the salutation from the name, like so: "Hi, John" I think this is nonsense and that the comma should go at the ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“To go so far as to” — suitable for academic writing?

Is using the phrase "to go so far as to" in an academic context (e.g. in an article in humanities journal) acceptable? New Example: I do not know why Mister X went so far as to assert that Mister ...
0
votes
1answer
168 views

Differences with placement of 'please'

Please, can you give me a cup of water? Can you give me a cup of water, please? Can you please give me a cup of water? What's the difference in the above? They seem similar to be, but subtle ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are contractions considered unprofessional?

I've heard people specify not to use contractions in order to maintain a degree of professionalism. I've heard this mentioned by fellow students while in school as well. I've never heard this with ...
0
votes
0answers
50 views

Which form of address in motivation letter? [duplicate]

I am writing a motivation letter for a university in London, and I wanted to know which form of address is common? Dear Sir or Madam To whom it may concern Thanks in advance.
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

In formal writing, is there any difference between “couple” and “some”?

For example in a résumé, are Experience in a couple of rendering tools and Experience in some rendering tools the same from the point of view of formality?
0
votes
1answer
424 views

Usage of “by the way” in an essay [closed]

Can I use the phrase "by the way" in a formal essay? The essay is almost a tech paper (not an article — rather a university paper). Is that literary language or slang?
-2
votes
1answer
3k views

Height and weight written out

In formal writing I like to do this (in British style): The infant weighed 10lb 5oz; a 10lb 5oz infant He was 6ft 3in tall; a 6ft 3in man My question is about the plural usage: do we ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it “falsy” or “falsey”?

I have seen both versions of the word, falsy and falsey. It can mean "something that is equivalent to false" in computer science, such as "The only two falsy values in the Ruby Language are false and ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

“At step” or “in step”

When I searched I found many usages of both "in step" and "at step". For example, Google returns: "at each step" — about 55,000,000 results "in each step" — about 45,000,000 results But which one ...
0
votes
0answers
44 views

When to use “programming's” vs. “programming is” [duplicate]

My sentence can be said as: Programming is fun. and it can also be said as: Programming's fun. Both seem to be correct. When should I use one instead of the other?
0
votes
1answer
175 views

What is the most appropriate for formal usage “a day/per day/daily”?

I was thinking which of these three possibilities is the most appropriate for a formal letter? E.g. when an employer want to say to his employee: 1) "You need to respond to at least 100 messages a ...
0
votes
2answers
254 views

“You gotta love xyz”: What is the formal version? [closed]

"You gotta love xyz" is an often a sarcastic (and colloquial) way of pointing out a preference/like for something. Is there a more formal way to express similar sarcasm when describing a ...
1
vote
1answer
430 views

What do “truxtop” and “thumb tax” mean? [closed]

What do truxtop and thumb tax mean? I found them mentioned in this quotation from English Words History and Structure, 2nd edition (p. 113): The replacement of the sequence [ks] by x is a ...
53
votes
15answers
19k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
3
votes
1answer
17k views

“so long as” vs. “as long as”

I just googled the difference between as long as and so long as. The difference has alredy been discussed here. There are, it seems, two contexts for these expressions: lengths and physical ...
-2
votes
2answers
230 views

Is there a formal version of “he's the real thing”? [closed]

Is there a formal version of "he's the real thing"? As in: Man, she's really good at tennis! She plays national. She's the real thing.
0
votes
1answer
565 views

'Evening' and 'morning' in use as greetings [closed]

This is more a historical question than one on the usages themselves. I'm interested in the history of the truncated forms of "Good morning" and "Good evening..." specifically, when people started ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What is the correct way to construct a conditional sentence with “would”?

I was told several times that a conditional sentence with the following structure is incorrect: If I would do this, then he would do that. Rather it should be: If I do this, then he will do ...
-1
votes
1answer
459 views

Is it ok to end a sentence with a preposition? [duplicate]

I have a sentence: It can be derived from either A or B. But I’m not sure how to ask the following question: Which one of them can it be derived from? Is that ok, or would it be better if ...
-4
votes
4answers
886 views

What does “ Rape someone's mind” mean? [closed]

Can we use of it to express violence by words and talks against another one or trying to impress him/her by advertisement against his/her own willing? Is it formal or informal? For example: Mona ...
3
votes
2answers
9k views

Is “catch up” used in formal language as in “We will catch up sometime”?

I wrote "we will catch up sometime" to one of my new friends. When I searched the Internet I found that people used it in informal situations. Is it okay to use this in formal writing as I did since ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

“Not so much” at the end of a sentence

I've occasionally seen "not so much" used at the end of a sentence. For example, Jeff Atwood saying Some community feedback is useful. Others, not so much. Doing a symbolhound search for "not so ...
2
votes
2answers
213 views

Is the word “dorm” acceptable in a thesis?

I'm writing a thesis about students living in dormitories and I would like to know if a dorm is an acceptable expression for a dormitory? I don't live in GB nor in USA and the thesis is neither ...
11
votes
3answers
456 views

How should a person holding a foreign military rank be addressed?

While researching how to call a person that holds a rank at a foreign (non English speaking) military, I came to very confusing results: Wikipedia is not consistent on the issue: it sometimes gives ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Is this a complete sentence?

There was an ad on telly I saw, saying Relax, knowing your home is safe Is this a complete sentence that is grammatically correct? Could this go in an essay? What is the technical word for ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Formally saying that you are laughing without euphemisms or colloquialism without referring to yourself

I want to know how one can manage to assert that they are laughing without using euphemisms or colloquialism in first person, for example in a letter, without referring to yourself, that is saying ...
0
votes
3answers
486 views

Is “setup” an acceptable noun in formal writing?

I'm editing a draft of a scientific paper which repeatedly uses the word "setup" to refer to the, well, experimental setup. Example: The dimensions of the setup are 250 mm × 250 mm × 50 mm. ...
0
votes
1answer
4k views

Greetings when replying to the other party's response

Writing formal emails, When I reply to the other party's email, how should I start my e-mail? Starting the email for the first time, I'd say Dear XXX. But should I say it again when I write to them ...