Informal and Formal Writing

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・APA ・3 Sources

Writing may take two approaches: formal or informal, depending on the situation, expected effect, and writer and reader comfort. In cases where the participants have a degree of intimacy and proximity and the subject of conversation does not include sensitive subjects, a casual language type is used (Omar & Miah, 2013). Formal writing requires addressing serious subjects directly and succinctly, so those talking must follow syntax and style rules. Writing styles are valuable because they allow knowledge to be passed from one person to the next. Informal language is full of slang, which is common among different groups and situations since sometimes it may be considered vulgar in some social situations (Lea & Street, 2014). Formal and informal writing are used for communicating and connecting people although in different manner depending on the situation, intention, and situations.

Formal and informal languages are important in today’s society for communicating messages to various groups. For instance, chatting on mobile phone with friends via texts would require one to use informal language (Grace, Kemp, Martin & Parrila, 2015). However, if one wants to communicate to a CEO of a certain company especially through a memorandum formal language would be the most appropriate. Old business models focused on using formal language especially when one was addressing individuals in higher positions. However, current businesses are not keen on using formal language due to increased collaboration, sharing, and creation of healthy and accommodative working conditions. The communication mode has shifted to informal showing its increased importance. This reveals that formal and informal languages are important in various situations including businesses although the informal is becoming more popular.

Formal and informal languages are used to connect people although the latter is becoming more prevalent in many situations. Formal language use seems to be on the decline unless in areas where it is absolutely necessary such as in academic work and reports. People are ignoring the rules of grammar in today’s informal writing especially in the digital era. It is easy to type using informal language as people can shorten words making it the most popular in modern generation. Therefore, formal language use is declining while informal is becoming more popular due to its simplicity and ability to connect people (Lea & Street, 2014). Formal language allows corporations to communicate their skills and knowledge on certain subjects in either writing or verbally especially in conferences. It is also very vital in scientific research, legal matters, and in job applications among others. It reveals some level of maturity, respect, experience, and intelligence on the speaker thus using it in some situations give users some added advantage. A person attending an interview and using formal language for expression is likely to get a job compared to one that decides to use informal language.

Informal language is characterized by spoken conversation by use of colloquial language including slang, figures of speech, and broken syntax among others. The tone is personal in which an individual speaks directly to his/ her audience using either first or third person point of view (Grace, Kemp, Martin & Parrila, 2015). In addition one can address the reader or listener with second person pronouns such as your or you. Informal language uses short sentences to pass the message across to the audience and sometimes there may be incomplete sentences. The language involves use of contractions such as you’re, it’s, or can’t and abbreviations such as TV for television. In addition, formal language is full of emotions since it allows the author to show empathy towards the readers. Formal writing is complex and uses longer sentences since the author has to be thorough in expressing the message (Omar & Miah, 2013). Every main point should be well introduced, given clear elaboration, and conclusion. Formal language must be objective in which points are stated with great confidence and supported fully. Emotions are limited since it avoids emotive signs such as use of exclamation or ellipsis unless one is citing them from other sources. In addition, formal language avoids contractions and abbreviations and concentrates on full words. It uses third person point of view since the authors disconnects from the topic and only makes observations.

Formal and informal languages are used for different purposes and therefore the tone, word choices, and use of the chosen words are different. Formal language is considered less personal compared to the informal and mostly used in academics especially in university reports and writings. Informal language is also casual and spontaneous and mostly used by peers in conversation and writing such as in text emails, text messages, and social media messages. Sometimes mixing formal and informal language in communication is important to help the society continue especially in the era of technological advancement. People must understand situations that require them to use formal language and those that require informal to ensure quality communication.


Grace, A., Kemp, N., Martin, F. H., & Parrila, R. (2015). Undergraduates’ Attitudes to Text Messaging Language Use and Intrusions of Textisms into Formal Writing. New Media & Society, 17(5), 792-809.

Lea, M. R., & Street, B. (2014). Understanding Textual Practices ‘In Higher Education. Writing: Texts, Processes, and Practices, 62.

Omar, A., & Miah, M. (2013). Digital Evolution of the Written Language. In Proceedings of the Information Systems Educators Conference ISSN (Vol. 30, p. 2509).

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