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Writing can be formal or informal. In academic writing you need formal writing. For business, it depends on the situation. Formal writing is important for academic and business situations. The following are tips on writing more formally:
Do not write in the first person.
First person pronouns include I, my, we, our, us, etc. Formal writing should be in the third person.
- Error: I believe dogs are better than cats.
- Correction: Dogs are better than cats.
Write out contractions in full.
- Error: Don’t, won’t
- Correction: Do not, will not
Write out numbers.
Numbers below 10 are written and numbers above 10 can be shown as numbers.
- There are three children living in the house.
- The population of the town is 15, 000.
Do not abbreviate.
The first instance of a word should be spelled in full, and often it may be abbreviated afterwards.
Do not use slang or idioms.
Slang words are for conversation not for writing.
- Wicked – Incredible
- Awesome – Impressive
Idioms are phrases that do not have the same literal meaning.
- Give me a hand
- Actions speak louder than words
They are not acceptable in formal writing. Idioms are often clichés.
Do not use clichés.
Clichés are unoriginal and redundant.
- At the end of the day, scientists are unsure of the causes of global warming.
- After a thorough review, we decided to increase the budget.
Think of your own way to write the cliché.
Do not use excessive punctuation, especially exclamation marks.
- The weather in Vancouver is wonderful!!
- Where are the cookies??!!
Avoid phrasal verbs.
Phrasal verbs can often be replaced with a more formal verb. One of the most common is “get”
- Deal with = handle
- Make up = invent
Below are three lists of formal and informal writing. You should almost always follow the first list. The other two lists depend on how formal you are writing.
Very Informal Words
|Very Informal Words||Formal Correction||Example|
|So||Very, Extremely||· The movie was so good.|
· The movie was very good.
|Just||Only, Simply||· There are just three students today.|
· There are only three students.
|Way, A lot, Lots||Many, Much||· He is way better than you.|
· He is much better than you.
|Kind of, Sort of||Somewhat||· He kind of looks like his brother.|
· He somewhat looks like his brother.
|Informal Words||Formal Correction||Example|
|Get||Obtain, Receive, Understand, Arrive|
|Of course||Clearly, Evidently||· Of course it had rained.|
· It had clearly rained.
|Incredible, Unbelievable||· The movie was awesome.|
· The movie was incredible.
|Again and Again||Repeatedly||· The alarm went off again and again.|
· The alarm sounded repeatedly.
|Whole||Entire||· The whole day was ruined.|
· The entire day was ruined.
|All right, OK||Acceptable, Sufficient||· Everything in the report is OK.|
· Everything is the report is sufficient.
Somewhat Informal Words
|Informal Words||Formal Correction||Example|
|Cheap||Affordable/Inexpensive||· The shoes were cheap.|
· The shoes were inexpensive.
|Hard||Difficult||· The exam was hard.|
· The exam was difficult.
|Used to||Accustomed to||· I am used to waking up early.|
· I am accustomed to waking up early.
|On the other hand||Contrastingly||· On the other hand, the smaller paper is cheaper.|
Past continuous english file. · Contrastingly, the smaller paper is more affordable.
|Got to, Have to||Must, Need to||· I’ve got to finish my project.|
· I need to finish.
|Right/Wrong||Correct/Incorrect||· Every question on the exam was right.|
· Every question on the exam was correct.
|Ask||Enquire/Inquire||· I want to ask you about your prices.|
· I would like to enquire about your prices.
Formal Writing Tests
Are you ready to practice your understanding of formal and informal writing? Try this test:
Formal Writing Test
More English Writing Lessons and Tests
- Capital Letters
- Formal Writing
- Parallel Structure
- Run-On Sentences
- Sentence Fragments
- Transitional Words
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In this lesson we will take a look at some of the questions that you may be asked. Of course, there is no limit to the range of questions that could be asked during an interview. However, there are some questions which come up time and time again. Here is a list of them.
Learn Business English Conversation
Why did you study physics / chemistry / literature at school/college?
What training have you had since leaving school / college?
What are your educational qualifications?
Have you been in any courses whilst in your present employment?
What were your favourite subjects at school or college?
Are you willing to undertake training even if this takes place in your spare time?
Do you think that educational qualifications are important?
Here are some questions about work experience.
Why did you choose this career?
What are your greatest achievements/failures at work?
What does your present job involve?
What do you enjoy most/least about it?
What did you find easiest/most difficult in your last job?
Why are you seeking a new job?
What kind of work are you looking for?
Give evidence of a time when you demonstrated initiative in your job?
Isn’t this job a step down for you?
Why did you leave your previous job?
Have you ever done this kind of work before?
Why were you out of work for so long?
Why were you made redundant?
Have you any experience of managing staff?