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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

13
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?

Imagine that I'm running a friendly and informal online business. I would like to introduce my service to the new customers by a blog post that entitles, 'Are you a newbie to XYZ.com?'. Will that ...
1
vote
2answers
358 views

What is the difference between “nudge” and “push” [closed]

I am trying to nudge them towards a practical solution. What does nudge imply here? Can't we just use something like push? Is the word outdated or still in use? I'm not trying to avoid using ...
1
vote
1answer
796 views

Acceptability of the phrase “While yet others” in formal English

Is it acceptable to use the phrase "While yet others" at the start of a sentence in formal English? Are there any alternative phrases that I could use? To put this into context, I wish to write ...
2
votes
2answers
499 views

Word or phrase for mere coincidence that brings happiness

I wish to state that my exposure to a certain area was a mere coincidence, and I am happy about the area. Moreover, I want to convey the idea that the incident was like a fairytale, something no one ...
-1
votes
1answer
134 views

Does 'agemates' have a space or not? [closed]

How is it correctly spelled? agemates or age mates
1
vote
2answers
132 views

Is it suitable to use “trump card” in scientific papers?

Suppose you improved an old method with a novel technique. Is it OK to say that it (your technique) is your trump card in paper? If not, what is your suggestion?
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any reason why English doesn’t add respectful words in every sentence? [closed]

My mother tongue, Korean, and its neighbor Japanese have postpositions for expressing honoring the opposite in each sentence when we say to seniors or strangers if these are younger than the speaker. ...
6
votes
7answers
3k views

Is using the last name of a person without a title an accepted way of addressing?

I always heard people use Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms before people's names and that is how, I thought, it was done until I watched one of those Harry Potter films in which Malfoy (Sr) addresses Albus Dumbledore ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “ain’t” slang, or is it colloquial instead?

Does using the word ain’t in a song make it slang, whereas using it in a speech make it colloquial?
-1
votes
3answers
9k views

Correct way of saying a decision has been made [closed]

What is the correct way of saying "decision has been made on a paper"? I review papers submitted by officials. Is it OK to say it like this? This paper has already been decision by Sam Rick. I ...
2
votes
4answers
5k views

Alternative to “as-well-as” for an academic paper

Is there some better alternative to phrase as well as for an academic writing? It sounds to me too informal. The whole sentence is: Improvements of both parts are possible as well as joining ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

“Deliberately” vs. “intentionally” vs. “on purpose”

I wonder if there is any difference between usage of these three: deliberately intentionally on purpose Are they completely interchangeable? Are they at the same level of formality? I found some ...
3
votes
1answer
266 views

Colon between “that is” and formal definition

Is it appropriate to use "that is" followed by a colon when defining something formally? I have the following example: Let γ be the set of groups that hold variables accessed by C, that is: γ ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Using “you got it” in the sense of “you are welcome”

Normally I would assume the meaning of you got it were something like: You do understand it right. You’ve achieved your goal. Or even I’ll do it for you very shortly. But from time ...
2
votes
2answers
72 views

How to write that I used a graphic from another source and modified it? [closed]

I'm writing a thesis in English (I'm from Germany) in which I'll use a graphic from a book that I modified just a little bit. How do write it correctly? see [source], slightly modified. ...
0
votes
1answer
976 views

How can I say “I know him well” in a formal way [closed]

I need help in formal writing. Can somebody tell me how to say "I know him well after 2 year teaching him" formaly? Thanks in advance.
1
vote
2answers
13k views

Is the abbreviation “etc.” or “and so on” acceptable in formal writing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: On the usage of “etcetera” Is the abbreviation etc. or "and so on" acceptable in scientific writing papers?
3
votes
3answers
19k views

formal way of saying “I want to”

I’m writing a piece of mail to the manager of some other company, and I wanted to ask him: On a different note, I wanted to know how you are doing [something]. I was wondering, is there a more ...
0
votes
2answers
232 views

How formal should the English in a personal blog be? [closed]

I'm starting a technology and/or programming oriented blog, and I was wondering how formal should the English be, specially when it comes to the shortening of words like "let's". Ideas?
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is there a formal verb to describe the act of cheating on another?

I wish to say something along the lines of "after she found out her husband was cheating on her" however I have realized that 'cheating' is colloquial. Is there a formal alternative that is a ...
1
vote
2answers
176 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
887 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
5k 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
398 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
927 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
25k 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
2k 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
260 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
938 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
1k 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
830 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
1k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
7k 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?
3
votes
4answers
3k 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
3k 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
751 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
13k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
58 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
1k views

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

Should I use “ or " in very formal English writing?
0
votes
1answer
3k 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
5k 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
4k 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
3k 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
2k 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
23k 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: ...
7
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
79k 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
9k 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
884 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 ...