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

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1
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2answers
168 views

“White” vs. “a white” vs. “a white person”

Should I say that "Will is white" or "Will is a white" or "Will is a white person" to refer to his race? Also, is it considered acceptable to say someone is black or white in a college paper?
1
vote
1answer
615 views

Is “Fellow” informal? If yes, what's a formal equivalent?

In this article I read that: Fellow – Avoid using "fellow" when you mean "a person." Calling someone a fellow is more formal than calling him or her a dude, but "fellow" is still a colloquialism. ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

Prepositions: “upon” vs. “after”

Despite having heard enough times already that upon is an archaic version of the on preposition, I'm still struggling to thoroughly understand its meaning and usage. In the quoted sentence, ...
1
vote
1answer
338 views

Usage of “ain't” in formal conversation

Is it okay to use ain't in formal conversation? I know ain't can be used for am not, is not, are not, have not, has not. So if I can use it in day-to-day life, it will be easier for me I guess.
4
votes
1answer
696 views

proper way to write the slang term for “gravitational force”

I came across something very similar to this in a thriller novel: At this stage, the rocket is experiencing its maximum acceleration, say about ten gees. Here, the author has spelled out the ...
6
votes
2answers
15k views

Is “I'm screwed” a rude expression?

Is "I'm screwed" a rude expression, or can it be used when someone tries to say they made a mistake? I overheard it from someone who seemed to have failed at his task.
14
votes
1answer
1k views

On the usage of “etcetera”

In Spanish, we use the word etcétera at the end of an enumeration to imply there are more things to mention, which may (or not) be important, but they will be omitted. Thus, I was fairly surprised ...
0
votes
1answer
207 views

Curious about the type of humour employed by Twitter's @AntiJokeCat? [closed]

Despite my general disregard for Twitter and its adherents, I very much enjoy AntiJokeCat's brand of humour. His/her gags are funny because they seem to subvert the notion of what a joke is and ...
7
votes
5answers
590 views

Is “huge” slightly informal?

Is "huge" slightly informal? In the following sentence, First, some people insist that Japan doesn’t need to adopt [an] austerity policy because it has a huge amount of assets at home and ...
4
votes
8answers
904 views

Difference between “shall not exceed XXX” and “may be XXX but not longer”

The candidate's statement shall not exceed two hundred words. The candidate's statement may be two hundred words but not longer. I think there is no difference in meaning between these ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

“You're not” vs. “you ain't” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “ain't” mean? What's the difference between "you're not" and "you ain't" ("...coming home")? I do realize that ain't is a contraction of are ...
3
votes
4answers
633 views

Is answering a question with “Why, ” rude?

In a book I've read some characters are answering questions with "Why, ", e.g. Why not come to me? you ask, and I must answer, Why, because I did not trust you, my lord. and they never mean it ...
10
votes
9answers
921 views

T-V distinction

In many languages, there is such thing as T-V distinction. Basically, it's when you use different pronouns in "formal" (or "polite") speech, and in informal speech. Now, I do realize there is no ...
22
votes
5answers
5k views

Why should I use “ought to”?

Is "ought to" still used in modern English? If yes, in what contexts is it used, and is it used more in formal or informal cases?
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Difference between “heck” and “hell”

Many say that one shouldn't use "hell" as it is informal. You can use "heck" instead. Both convey the same meaning. Then why this difference? Why can't one use "hell" everywhere?
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Formal alternative for “suck” [closed]

What is a more decent/formal alternative for the word suck? I want to use it in the context of being bad at something. To be precise, I want to translate "To suck less at a job every day" to formal ...
3
votes
2answers
562 views

When addressing my 'Sensei', should I omit the possessive “my”?

In English, when (if ever) is it appropriate to use the possessive with a formal title when addressing someone? Kind of like I would say, "As you wish, my greatest of loves." For example, Thank ...
2
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a more eloquent way to say “I hope I'm not asking too much”?

I've been emailing back and forth with another professional who has been very generous in sharing a workflow developed at their institution. This professional has gone to great lengths to answer my ...
-1
votes
1answer
48 views

discreetness, secrecy

Is paraphrasing: I expect you to keep this subject secret from people it does not concern. as I'm expecting discreetness concerning this subject. a correct use of that word? How else would ...
6
votes
3answers
880 views

Straight quotes vs. curly quotes in formal writing [closed]

Should I use “ or " in very formal English writing?
0
votes
1answer
2k views

How can someone become fluent and improve their writing skills? [closed]

How can someone become fluent and improve their writing skills? I've been learning English for many years and I still face many problems especially at writing(academic writing and writing in general) ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Why put a period after your name in the closing of a communication/E-mail? [closed]

I have several co-workers in Europe and all of them tend to put a period after their names in the closing of E-mails, e.g.: Thanks, Matt. I've never seen this, so I am curious if it is proper ...
5
votes
7answers
3k views

More formal synonyms of “snob”

To me, the word snob seems rather informal, although it appears in dictionaries, and I am unable to find anywhere on the internet a more formal word than snob. Are there any sophisticated synonyms ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

“Engagement”, “betrothal” — connotations?

I'm not a native speaker, so frequently I don't know underlying semantic subtleties of synonyms; what connotations they bear, which may be antiquated or very official, which are specific to given ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Swearing: “bollixed”

The House Ethics Committee has now hired an outside counsel to investigate its own bollixed investigation into the conduct of Representative Maxine Waters. (“The House’s Farcical ...
3
votes
5answers
18k views

“Will graduate” vs. “will be graduated” vs. “is going to graduate”

Which of the following sentences are correct? He will graduate in May. He will be graduated in May. He is going to graduate in May. Issue 1: Is the second one grammatical? Issue 2: ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Usage of “is when”

In grade school, when writing stories for English classes I recall being gently corrected whenever I handed pieces in that contained sentences with a structure similar to this: “A debate is ...
1
vote
1answer
51k views

Is the phrase “Please be informed that” grammatically correct?

I have seen this phrase in many articles. It sounds a little bit odd to me. Also, what could be an alternative to this? Can I use "please be aware" or "For your information" instead of this phrase? ...
2
votes
4answers
4k views

Is it suitable to use 'etc.' in an academic paper?

I'm writing one of my first academic papers and I'm not sure whether etc. is too informal. Should I use et cetera instead?
1
vote
1answer
652 views

Subjunctive mood: 'was' usage after 'I wish' and 'if only'

SFX Magazine had declared the sentence below as follow: 1) STAR TURN, 2) BEST LINES. I wish Bernard Cribbins was my grandad. Perhaps he would be willing to adopt? Rattigan: “If only that ...
4
votes
5answers
3k views

Formal expression for “talking about something unrelated” [closed]

What are some words or phrases that can be used when a person is discussing a particular subject with a group of people and unintentionally she/he talks about something unrelated? I need a formal ...
1
vote
2answers
587 views

Pronoun to use in a one-person report (“I”, “we”, something else) [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Style Question: Use of “we” vs. “I” vs. passive voice in a dissertation When I am writing a report I usually use we. What if the project is ...
8
votes
8answers
15k views

How often do people say “gotta”, “wanna” or “gonna” in English speaking countries?

I learned these three words from Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner's English Dictionary. got|ta /g'ɒtə/ Gotta is used in written English to represent the words 'got to' when they are ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Phrasal verbs (formal and informal use) [closed]

I'm not always comfortable with phrasal verbs. I find that Americans use a lot of phrasal verbs than say people from UK -- I might be completely wrong though. What I find most difficult with phrasal ...
6
votes
7answers
6k views

Usage of double dots (..) Is it formal?

I am sure that this wouldn't have much meaning, but still want to get acknowledged whether usage of double dots is formal. I have observed people using double dots in business Emails. Usually while ...
2
votes
1answer
196 views

Can I say “What opinion are you of?”

We can say "I'm of the opinion that ~" instead of "I reckon that ~" in a formal way. Then, can I say "What opinion are you of?" in place of "What do you reckon?"
9
votes
3answers
836 views

Is “get” (in the sense of “become/make”) appropriate for formal writing?

Is the use of "get + adjective/participle" appropriate for formal writing (for example, scientific papers)? I am thinking of usages analogous to get fat get inflated get sick where the meaning ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

learn how to [verb] vs. learn to [verb]

"learn to [verb]" "learn how to [verb]" Is [1] merely a less formal version of [2]? If not, does [1] communicate something subtly different? Consider the following: In [2], the object of learning ...
2
votes
6answers
3k views

Usage of the phrase “you don't know what you don't know”

What is the correct usage of phrase "you don't know what you don't know"? Can it be used in formal conversation/writing?
1
vote
3answers
5k views

Starting a sentence with 'About your question, …'

I have noticed myself often starting a sentence like this: About your drawing question, I don't think there is an easy way to draw these shapes. Is it formal to start a sentence that way (formal ...
2
votes
2answers
329 views

Is “bettern't” an OK word to use?

In the spirit of: You can swim, can't you? You should tell the truth, shouldn't you? You'd be crazy to miss out, wouldn't you? Can I say: You better study, bettern't you? It's listed ...
5
votes
7answers
1k 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
706 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
562 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
192 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
12k 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
308 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
6k 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
957 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
1k 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 ...