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

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11
votes
7answers
5k 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
50k views

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

Is one more formal then the other?
2
votes
3answers
246 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
1k 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
55k 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
7k 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
427 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
7k 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
84k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
34k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
27k 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
3answers
16k 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 ...
50
votes
11answers
4k 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
5k 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
14k 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
316 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
2answers
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 ...
25
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
16k 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
664 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, ...
12
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
441 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. :)
8
votes
3answers
3k views

“So long as” vs. “as long as”

Which phrase is more formal — "so long as" or "as long as"? Example: So long as Google Voice allows free long distance in North America, I will use it. As long as Google Voice allows free ...
27
votes
6answers
42k views

Which is correct: “prefer X to Y” or “prefer X over Y”?

Many say that "prefer X to Y" has a more formal ring to it than "prefer X over Y". Are there any dialects where you wouldn't use "prefer X to Y" in colloquial speech at all? Conversely, are there any ...
3
votes
4answers
14k views

Formal way to wish good morning

I am not a native English speaker, the source of my learning is books, websites and of course movies and music. In the movie — if I remember the name correctly — The Last Samurai, I heard that they ...
35
votes
3answers
7k views

Alternatives to “and/or”?

As a programmer, I have no problem with seeing or using "and/or" in technical documentation. For example, I can upvote an answer that satisfies me and/or mark it as accepted. That's perfectly ...
7
votes
3answers
910 views

“just because… doesn't mean…”

It appears to me that the construction "just because… doesn't mean…" isn't used in literature at all. Is its use limited to colloquial speech and informal writing? Note that while some people seem to ...
4
votes
5answers
8k views

Why is “ain't” not listed in dictionaries?

Google finds 52,000,000 matches for ain't but non-natives simply can't look up this word. Wiktionary isn't helpful. Is it some kind of 'wildcard' for "am/is/are not"?
9
votes
15answers
3k views

Informal terms for money amounts

What informal terms are used in English as money amounts? I know the following US terms and I'm curious about the rest: a grand: 1000 dollars a buck: 1 dollar
9
votes
3answers
4k views

“Pretty” as an adverb

How correct/common/proper is "pretty" as an adverb? It is hard for me to see, since it's my native dialect, but I say "pretty often" pretty often, and "fairly often" fairly rarely. Does "pretty" mark ...
4
votes
6answers
8k views

“Important” and “significant”

"Important" and "significant" seems to be very close in meaning when denoting that something matters much. But am I right in thinking that "important" is less formal word than "significant"? And ...
62
votes
20answers
431k views

Which expressions can be used to close an email? [closed]

At the end of written communication like emails and letters, it is customary to use a closing valediction or "complementary close". Which formal and informal expressions can be used to end emails?