Formal vs Informal English

Formal vs Informal English.

Formal and informal English serve different purposes. They are not very different from each other. The line of difference between formal and informal English can be quite blurry. Most of the time, people use informal expressions instead of formal expressions. The choice of words and expressions vary between the two styles.

Formal English is used professionally and academically at your work place. It is less personal and more polite. Formal English should be used when you are talking to a stranger or someone you do not know well. It is used when writing cover letters, business emails, applications, books, university assignments, business reports, notices or official documents.

Learn how to write dates correctly in formal English.

Informal English is more impersonal, spontaneous and casual. It is used communicating with your family members, friends or someone you know well whether in written or in conversation. Informal English is used writing personal letters, text messages to your known people, cards to your loved ones, personal emails to your friends or family members.

Other Differences


Contractions like can’t,  don’t,  isn’t are avoided in formal English but they can be used in informal English.

Informal: I can’t send the reports today.

Formal: The reports cannot be sent today.

Informal: This project won’t continue.

Formal: This project will not continue.

The use of Personal Pronouns

Formal English is impersonal therefore the use of personal pronoun is restricted there. In formal writing, you may use the passive voice or an adverbial clause in place of the personal pronoun.

A few more examples will help you recognize Informal and formal expressions.

Go upIncrease
Go downDecrease
Look atExamine
Find outDiscover
Say sorryApologise
Go againstOppose
Ring upCall
Point outIndicate
Think aboutConsider
Get in touchContact
ASAPAs soon as possible/At the earliest
I thinkIn my opinion
To sum upTo conclude
AlsoIn addition/Additionally

Abbreviations/ Short Forms

Short forms and abbreviations are usually spelled out fully in formal written English.

Informal: Congrats for your appointment.

Formal: Congratulations! You have been appointed.

Informal: OMG! Fab presentation.

Formal: This presentation is fabulous!

Informal: Send the pic/photo asap.

Formal: The photograph should be sent as soon as possible/ at the earliest possible.

Informal: T.V. , phone

Formal: Television , cell phone

Informal: The date of exam is announced.

Formal: The date of examination is announced.


The ways you greet your recipient vary in informal and formal English. Formal English is more polite, accurate and precise.

In business correspondence or writing a business letter, professional e-mail, you need to be impersonal and polite.


Informal: Hey / Hi

Formal: Dear Sir/Madam/ Clients

Informal: What’s up!

Formal: How do you do?

To end up

Informal: Cheers! Love

Formal: Sincerely

If you adapt these differences, you will be more confident and persuasive to communicate formally or informally.

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