Formal and Informal English Words/ Phrases

What are the difference between formal and informal words/ phrases in English?


Actually, there are no specific definitions about formal and informal words/phrases. 

But, formal and informal English words/phrases can be identified based on the tips below:

  1. More read.  You will learn to associate certain words and phrases with different types of writing.
  2. Most uses of get are informal.
  3. In general – phrasal verbs are informal.
  4. Contractions are always informal.
  5. Many idioms are informal.
  6. Most shortened words are informal.
  7. If you have a dictionary that provides the etymology of a word, Latin and French root words usually are more formal than Germanic or old English root words.

There are a lot of the differences between formal and informal English. These differences make us more understand that language is large, very unique and important to learn.

Formal and Informal English Words

List of Informal & Formal words in English:

  • Ask for - Request
  • Come after - Follow
  • Come up to - Reach/attain
  • Deal with - Manage
  • Go before - Precede
  • Go out of - Exit
  • Lead to - Cause
  • Look at - Regard
  • Look for - Seek
  • Look into - Investigate
  • Look like - Resemble
  • Put up with - Tolerate
  • Refer to - Consult
  • Settle for - Choose
  • Speak to - Address
  • Talk about - Discuss/consider
  • Think about - Consider/ponder
  • Think of - Conceive
  • Wait for - Await
  • Really big - Considerable
  • Lively - Energetic
  • Whole - Entire/complete
  • Exceptional - Marvelous
  • Break down - fail/collapse

  • Break off - Suspend/adjourn
  • Break up - Disintegrate
  • Bring in - Introduce
  • Come back - Return
  • Come/go in - Enter
  • Get away - Escape
  • Go ahead - Proceed
  • Go away - Leave/depart
  • Give/bring back - Return
  • Give in - Yield
  • Give out - Distribute
  • Give up - Quit
  • Link up - Connect
  • Make out - Discern
  • Make up - Invent
  • Put/set down - Deposit
  • Set out (1) - Display
  • Set out (2) - Depart
  • Take away - Remove
  • Throw away - Discard
  • Throw out - Eject
  • Blow up - Explode
  • Break down - Fail/collapse
  • Hungry - Famished
  • Tired - Fatigued
  • Faithfulness - Fidelity
  • Hopeless - Futile
  • Go before - Precede
  • Enjoyment - Gratification
  • Thanks - Gratitude
  • Funny - Humorous, amusing
  • Childish - Immature
  • Better - Improved
  • Worse - Inferior
  • Put in - Insert
  • Make up - Invent
  • Can - Is capable of
  • Tons of, heaps of - Large quantities of, a number of
  • Keep up - Maintain properly
  • Could - Might be able to
  • Plus/also - Moreover/futhermore
  • Lots of/ a lot of - Much, many
  • Anyways - Nevertheless
  • A lot of - Numerous
  • From (company) - On the behalf of
  • Let - Permit
  • Put off - Postpone
  • Take out - Remove
  • Mend - Repair
  • Look like - Resemble
  • House - Residence
  • Keep - Retain
  • Call on - Visit
  • Try out - Test
  • Drop out of - Withdraw (from)
  • ...

Examples of formal English phrases

  1. Notice in cafe: Only food purchase (=bought) here may be eaten on the premises.
  2. Police statement: I apprehended (=caught) the accused outside the supermarket.
  3. Theatre announcement: They play will commence (=start) in the two minutes.
  4. Business meeting: The meeting will resume (=start again) this afternoon at 2 pm.
  5. Lawyers in court: My client had a broken ankle, thus (=so) he couldn’t drive the car.
  6. Business letter: I regret to inform you (I’m sorry to say) that we are unable to... (=can’t).
  7. Notice: If you require (=need) further assistance (more help) please contact...
  8. Airport announcement: Will passenger for Miami please proceed to (=go to) gate

Examples of informal English phrases

  1. I had to go and pick up (=collect) the kids (=children) from school.
  2. I reckon (=think) we’ll get (=receive/obtain) the money pretty (=quite) soon.
  3. I’m just going to the loo. (=toilet).
  4. Do you fancy going out? (= Would you like to go out?)
  5. I managed to fix up (=arrange/make) an appointment for 7.30.
  6. My flat is very handy for the shops. (near the shop and very convenient)
  7. I thought the book was terrific. (=marvelous)
  8. Most of the students are bright (=intelligent) but Paul is very thick. (=stupid)
  9. What’s up? (=what’s the matter?)
  10. We must get in touch with them (=contact them) very soon.
  11. When we get to (=reach/arrive) the hotel, I’ll have a word with (=speak to) them.
  12. I offered him ten quid (=pounds) but the gay (=man) wasn’t interested.
  13. A: Here’s the book I promised you.

B: Oh, cheers (=thank you. It can also mean good bye.)

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Formal and Informal English Words/ Phrases

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