Basic features of informal English


Differences between formal and informal English

Basic features of informal English

Semi-Formal English

List of literature

My boyfriend studies in USA and when I start practicing my English with him we have a lot of troubles with it. Some words that I use make him laugh and he says that they sound funny. I didn't have that much English experience as him and the only place I learned English is my school. The reason he is being and a deep laugh is because school taught me a bit of another side of that language. As he says "take it easy your speech is too formal". He explained it as the way I speak is the correct one but sometimes it can be really annoying and weird. So I started to learn about it and decided to go for the topic "Informal English". Here I will try to explain what's formal and informal, what is better, basic features of informal and more.

Differences between formal and informal English

The most important piece of advice for an English learner is to get lots of input. But not all input is the same. There are, roughly speaking, two basic types of English input: formal and informal.

Formal English is used in “serious” texts and situations — for example, in official documents, books, news reports, articles, business letters or official speeches. Informal English is used in everyday conversations and in personal letters.

Here is an example of formal English that you might come across in a book:

As the price of five dollars was reasonable, I decided to make the purchase without further thought.

The same thought would be expressed quite differently in informal English. Here’s an actual example that I heard from a young American:

It was, like, five bucks, so I was like “okay”.

You need to know formal English because you want to be able to read a book, give a business presentation or write an official letter. You also need informal English because you want to be able to understand and communicate with English speakers in everyday situations.

Basic features of informal English

· Used in everyday, personal conversations.

· Typically used in “improvised” speech — when the speaker is speaking without preparation, as in a conversation (in real life or over the phone). Informal English also occurs in writing, usually whenever the writer is writing quickly and without editing (for example, in an Internet chatroom or in quick, personal e-mails).

· Sentences are simpler and shorter, for example: Did you see Toyota’s sales figures? Looks like the discounts have actually worked.

· Because informal English is “improvised”, it is sloppy. Speakers (and sometimes writers) often do the following:

· Use “delaying expressions” to give themselves time: Well, I think they should have asked us first, you know?

· Use “correcting expressions” to correct themselves: He’s not well. I mean, he’s not sick, but he’s very tired.

· Use “qualifying expressions” to show that what they said is not exactly right: This whole blogging thing is getting kind of old.

· Informal English contains useful “everyday phrases”, for example:

· Here you are. There you go. (when giving something to someone)

· Excuse me?, Come again? (to ask someone to repeat something)

· What do you mean? (to ask for explanation)

· So, you’re saying that...? (to ask for confirmation)

· Exactly!, I couldn’t agree with you more. (to agree with someone)

· By the way..., Anyway... (to change the topic)

· See you. Take care. (to say goodbye)

· A huge number of words and phrases are used mainly in informal English. For example: dude, freaking, uh-huh, nope (= no), to puke, trashy, grownup, awesome, to chill out, stuff, hard-up, to tick somebody off, to sell like crazy.

· Phrasal verbs are used frequently. For example, in informal situations, people usually say found out instead of discovered, came across instead of encountered and got away instead of escaped.

· Words and phrases are sometimes pronounced in a shortened and simplified way, e.g. Lemme go!, I’m doin’ fine, Whassup?, Whatcha gonna do?

So, Informal English is:

1. Shorter, simpler sentences – perfect grammar is not as important

(So don’t be so nervous about mistakes when speaking!)

“Have you finished your work yet?” –> “Finished your work yet?”

“I’m really liking this book.”

(“like” should technically not be in the -ING form here)

“But I don’t think so.”

Starting sentences with “but,” ending sentences with prepositions, using sentence fragments – these are all done in informal spoken English.

2. Contains expressions/exclamations

um, uh, like, lemme see… = hesitation, when you need a moment to think before speaking

I mean… = to clarify

…you know? = to check if the other person understands

Gotcha. = I understand

How come? = Why?

Yeah right. = a sarcastic way to say “I don’t believe you.”

I’ll say! = I definitely agree with you

wow! = surprise

oops = accident

yuck = that’s disgusting

3. Contains phrasal verbs, slang, and idioms are used VERY frequently

This is one reason that watching movies and TV shows in English is difficult… even if you have good vocabulary and grammar! You may not have learned the phrasal verbs, slang, and idioms in your textbook.

Phrasal verb: “I won’t put up with this!”

put up with = tolerate

Idiom: “Could you give me a hand?”

give me a hand = help me

Slang: “I aced the test!”

aced = got an excellent grade

The Phrasal Verbs in Conversation Course and the English Idioms Course can help you learn these expressions in context!

4. Have reductions when speaking

(in both semi-formal and informal English)

He’s gonna be angry.

gonna = going to

I wanna learn how to ski.

wanna = want to

Didja like the movie?

didja = did you

We hafta leave now.

hafta = have to

I bought apples n grapes.

n = and

Semi-Formal English

1. Phrasal verbs & contractions = OK

Could you look over this report?
look over = review and check for errors

She came up with a great idea.
came up with = created, invented, thought of

I’mavailable on Friday morning.
The directors weren’thappy.