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

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3
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
657 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
11k 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
51 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
946 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
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
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
20k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
65k 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
7k 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
824 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
736 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 ...
10
votes
8answers
22k 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
8k 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
202 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
1k 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
7answers
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
6k 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
358 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
800 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
632 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
224 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
14k 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
355 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
8k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
655 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
19k 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
527 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
91k 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
5k 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
193k 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
632 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
2k 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
126 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
688 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
14k 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
424 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
888 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 ...