The Difference Between Formal and Informal Language

Working out when to use formal language and when to be informal is a big part of mastering a language...


What is the difference between formal and informal language?

Formal and informal language serve different purposes. The tone, the choice of words and the way the words are put together vary between the two styles. Formal language is less personal than informal language. It is used when writing for professional or academic purposes like university assignments. Formal language does not use colloquialisms, contractions or first person pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘We’.

Informal language is more casual and spontaneous. It is used when communicating with friends or family either in writing or in conversation. It is used when writing personal emails, text messages and in some business correspondence. The tone of informal language is more personal than formal language.

1. Formal and informal English

2. Informal vs. Formal words

3. Formal and Informal writing styles

4. Examples

Active and Passive voice

(i) Our technician repaired the fault on 12th June. Now it’s your turn to pay us.

(f) Although the fault was repaired on 12th June, payment for this intervention has still not been received.

Phrasal verbs and Latina

(i) The company laid him off because he didn't work much.

(f) His insufficient production conducted to his dismissal.

Direct and Formulaic

(i) I’m sorry but …

(i) I’m happy to say that …

(f) We regret to inform you that …

(f) We have pleasure in announcing that …

Use of Slang

(i) He had to get some money out of a hole in the wall …

(f) He withdrew the amount from an ATM.

Personal form & nominators

(i) If you lose it, then please contact us as soon as possible.

(f) Any loss of this document should be reported immediately …

Linking words

(i) The bank can’t find the payment you say you’ve made.

(f) Notwithstanding that the payment has been sent the bank fails to acknowledge it.

Revitalised Sentences

(i) Anybody or any company.

(f) … any natural person who, and any legal entity which …

Modal usage

(i) If you need any help give us a call.

(f) Should you require any assistance, please feel free to contact us …

Singular & Plural Person

(i) I can help you to solve this problem. Call me!

(f) We can assist in the resolution of this matter. Contact us on our toll-free number.

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The Difference Between Formal and Informal Language

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