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

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3
votes
6answers
832 views

Is “Lingo” appropriate in a formal context?

Is the word "Lingo" appropriate in a formal context? It sounds much more professional to me than "jargon", but I still have it in the back of my mind that it is slang. Is there a synonym that would ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does this use of “carpeted” mean?

I partially understand based on the background and context, but I've never seen it used this way before. Can someone provide the full meaning of carpeted in this context and also tell me if it is a ...
0
votes
1answer
431 views

Is it okay to make up your own words at times? [closed]

Let's say you're writing an essay and you want to convey a message as concisely as possible with a time-constraint on your hands, and you don't really get the right words. Is it okay to make up words ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “let us” always be used in place of “let's”?

Me: Perhaps we need to make a left turn at Albuquerque Him: Let us try that Now I would have said, "Let's try that". "Let us" sounds wrong to me in this instance. Is it? Are there ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

“Certificate of residence” vs. “certificate of residency”

Certificate of residence vs. certificate of residency — which one to use, when and why? Please quote a reputable source.
0
votes
1answer
6k views

How to use “supposed to”, in particular while writing official letter to ask for leave

How do we use supposed to? In particular, should I use this while writing an official letter to ask for leave?
8
votes
4answers
9k views

What's the difference between orthography and spelling?

The terms "spelling" and "orthography" seem to be largely synonymous. What is the difference really? Is it that "orthography" is a more formal or technical term and hence more well-defined? Or is it ...
7
votes
2answers
461 views

Is it acceptable to use “just as well” in an academic paper

The title pretty much sums it up: is it permissible to use the words "just as well" in a formal academic paper? For instance: The exchange might just as well have taken place in Abu Dhabi.
1
vote
3answers
7k views

Is it acceptable to use a tilde symbol to sign your name? [closed]

Should the tilde symbol (~) be used to sign your name? It seems quite commonplace on Internet forums but I don't believe I've ever seen it used in books.
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Has “may” become a formal version of “can”?

When I went to school I was taught that when asking for something you use "may I (have/do something)". "Can" was used only when asking if you are "physically capable" of something. These days I have ...
1
vote
4answers
4k views

“How be you” or “How are you”?

I have never heard the phrase "How be you?" until yesterday, and started arguing that this was incorrect and that the correct phrase is "How are you?". My friend's reply was "This is how it's taught ...
7
votes
5answers
8k views

Is using “and/or” recommended for formal writing, or is it frowned upon?

Is using "and/or" allowed in formal writing? If not, is there general way to represent the OR binary operator with as little space as possible in written English?
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Does America have its Versions of U- and Non-U English?

In Britain and most of Europe, some form of U-speak exists: old-money language has certain features that distinguish it from other language. In Dutch, it doesn't really have a name, but it is still ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

What is the formal version of “8 a.m. until”?

Is there a formal version of the term "until," used in the context of "The event will run from 8 a.m. until," signifying an indeterminate end time?
3
votes
3answers
623 views

What are the guidelines for usage of “will” and “is/are going to”?

I use them interchangeably, however I'd like to know when one is better or more appropriate than the other.
2
votes
4answers
50k views

Formal alternative for “like” and “such as”?

Is there a more formal way of saying: "In most western countries, such as the United States, an increased level of ... has been observed." Or should such a sentence be rephrased completely?
1
vote
2answers
162 views

Any better term than “Postscript”?

There was a Postscript section in my English Course-book, which simply teaches the colloquial English phrases as in "Give me a lift", "Let me have a look", "There is no point", etc. But "postscript" ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

Is “whatsoever” a formal word in written English?

The authors make no mention whatsoever about... Is this sentence appropriate for formal writing?
14
votes
7answers
6k views

Indian-English usage of “Kindly”

I have noticed that the word "Kindly" is used a lot by some Indians speaking English as a second language. Does anyone know the origin of this?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“TV”: is it formal or informal?

I would definitely say that the term TV is informal (while television is formal), however I have found "TV" in some formal compositions.
4
votes
3answers
2k views

How to politely request to be called by first name instead of Mr. Surname?

Let's say that somebody from a partner firm with whom I've never spoken before starts an email to me with "Dear Mr. Rossi,". When a reply to her, I think I will then have to start with "Dear Ms. ...
7
votes
5answers
57k views

What's the difference between “teacher” and “professor”?

Is one more formal then the other?
2
votes
3answers
256 views

What are alternatives to the verb “study” (in the meaning of “research”)?

When writing scientific discussions (articles, book chapters, reports, ...), I frequently feel short on synonyms of the verb study, which I use extensively in sentences such as “in the next section, ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

When did the valediction 'best regards' come into use?

Best regards seems to be quite a popular valediction used in business emails, along with variants kind regards, or just regards. The spoken expression "give him my regards" would appear to be a ...
10
votes
9answers
65k views

When ending an email, should I use “Yours faithfully” or “Best regards”?

I've been taught to end business letters with "Yours faithfully" but I can see from my daily correspondence that "Best regards" is more commonly used but seems more informal. What term should be used ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there an informal way to describe a woman that can not have a baby?

"Infertile"; "fruitless"? How would you describe such a woman in an informal talk to your friend?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Is ‘Yes-ish’ a perfect alternative to Yes, or is it 'Yes ‘on condition’? Is it received English?

I found a word ‘Yes-ish’ in the answer (from PLL) to my question about the meaning of ‘Stuck to the script’ I posted today. As it is quite new to my ear, I consulted with Wikipedia before logging out ...
3
votes
4answers
9k views

Is using “have” better than using “got” in the following sentence?

Take a gander at the following two versions of the same sentence: "I got an mp4 video file" vs. "I have an mp4 video file" Someone 'corrected' me by changing the first form to the second ...
12
votes
3answers
15k views

Were contractions less common in olden days?

We just viewed the new movie True Grit. The language of the characters was more formal sounding than we are used to, largely because of the absence of contractions. Is this historically accurate? Do ...
1
vote
2answers
449 views

Is ‘marquee chefs’ casual word?

I found the word ‘marquee chefs’ in an article in today’s New York times in the following context. ‘From new offerings by marquee chefs to more modest openings in out-of-the-way spots, here are 10 ...
3
votes
5answers
8k views

“with whom” or “whom with”

I've been looking, but I have not come across this 'whom' related question anywhere. Specifically in this circumstance, I feel 'with whom' flows more naturally but I remember someone suggested that ...
20
votes
9answers
94k views

Using “dear”, “darling”, or “honey” to address a friend

As far as I know dear, darling, and honey are commonly used between lovers, but I suppose there are more words like that. What else is commonly used? Which of these can be used to address a ...
9
votes
2answers
39k views

Can I use “therefore”, “so”, “hence” and “thus” interchangeably?

I was taught that, at least, 'therefore' and 'so' and can be used interchangeably, one being informal, the other formal. But, even when written, replacing 'so' with 'therefore' doesn't seem correct. ...
8
votes
1answer
79k views

How to wish someone “Happy New Year” in a professional, formal and friendly way

English is my second language. I still struggle with it especially when I have to write a formal email. I need to send an email to several of my business associates in reply to theirs. It contains ...
15
votes
3answers
29k views

Is “misconfigured” a word?

I use the word "misconfigured" all the time, but MS Word, Chrome, and the two dictionaries I checked don't list it as a word. I'm going to keep using it instead of "configured incorrectly" because I ...
3
votes
2answers
21k views

Filling out forms that ask for “relationship with”

When I fill any form for my son this question “relationship with child” confuses me. Should the answer be “son” or “father”? To me, the ideal answer is always “a father–son relationship”. A little ...
52
votes
11answers
5k views

Is “data” considered singular or plural?

Related to this question and this question. My non-native English speaking friend just asked me: Data is ... or Data are ... I said both but that's because I've been desensitized from ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

“Toward” or “towards” – what would a native speaker use?

In this question we learn that toward and towards are interchangeable, but that the former is somewhat more typical of U.S. English and the latter of British English, although there is some indication ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Use of conjuncts in formal communication via email, letters etc

How much should we use the conjuncts (words like besides, however, nevertheless, otherwise, so, therefore, still, yet, though) in formally communicating via email, verbally etc? Any suggestions in ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How and when to use “wont”

I stumbled upon this word lately, as in he was wont to come early I'm wondering what feeling it has for native speakers. For example, can I use in a meeting, or in a written report?
4
votes
2answers
2k views

These ones/those ones/the other ones

I came across the following sentence: This is the only type of command that requires us to complete by a certain time - all of the other ones aren't governed by exclusion logic. I am intrigued ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

Expressing contentment about receiving a letter

Someone wrote to me. I'm writing him back. I want to say, in formal speech, that I'm glad that he wrote to me. How do I do that? I guess I can just say "I'm glad to hear from you" but maybe you could ...
5
votes
2answers
16k views

What is the correct greeting to use in a formal email addressed to a department/team/company?

If the email were to be addressed to a specific person, you could write "Dear [Name]". But is it appropriate to write "Dear [Team / Department / Company]"? For example, "Dear Service Desk," and ...
3
votes
1answer
325 views

Is “sophisticated” appropriate in formal documents?

In German the word sophisticated is sometimes used as Anglicism in order to describe a very fashionable person, e.g. carrying a dog in a handbag ("It-Girl"). However, when looking up the word in a ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Should contractions be avoided in formal emails?

In a formal email of the kind where you begin with "Dear Mr. Surname" and finish with "Best regards", for example, should we use the following contractions? Or are the non contracted forms more ...
29
votes
4answers
3k views

The times they are a-changin'

I have always been intrigued by the word usage in the title of this Bob Dylan song. Wikipedia mentions that the song was influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads: Dylan recalled writing the song ...
12
votes
4answers
19k views

What are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?

What is the type of sentence exemplified below called? Is it appropriate to use it in a scientific paper and formal written English in general? 1. The more pronounced the variation, the more the ...
6
votes
2answers
689 views

Use “whom” in emails?

Assume for a moment that an author does know how to use whom correctly. In an email (specifically), does using whom correctly make the author sound stuffy and formal, or would you say that in email, ...
13
votes
7answers
5k views

How do you decide which phrase to use when asking people to repeat what they said?

There are many different ways to ask people to repeat what they have just said. For example: Huh? What? Sorry? Pardon? What's that? Say that again, please I beg your pardon? I've ordered them ...
5
votes
5answers
465 views

How dangerous is the acceptance of common usage on traditional English?

I mean how far should we flow on with the current called "common usage"? Is there a fear that the real English is going do disappear someday? By the way, as for me, I like common English myself. :)