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Formal and Informal Language | Formal vs. Informal Words


It is extremely important to know when to use either formal or informal language. This will depend on the business you are working in, the industry you are in, the people you are speaking with, and the topic you are talking about. Learning the formal and informal way to speak is also a great way to master and learn the language.

Both formal and informal languages serve different individual purposes. The two styles vary depending on the tone you use, the words you choose to use, and the way you construct the words together. Using formal language is less personal than using informal language. Always remember that the type of language you decide to use in writing or speaking will solely depend on your purpose and the audience you are speaking to. Here are some tips you must remember to help you know when to use either formal or informal language.

Formal and Informal Language

Formal Language

As mentioned above, formal language is less personal than informal language. This is commonly used when writing or speaking for professional or academic purposes like emails for business, formal letters, academic write-ups, professional academic circumstances, presentations, reports, official and or legal documents, job interviews, and any scenario where formal language is appropriate. Since it is less personal, this can be used when you are communicating with a person you do not personally know well, like public speeches and tenders.

Note that very formal English in everyday situations may sound pompous at times, so always consider the context and the audience you are targeting. In situations that are more serious like job interviews or emailing your university professor, using formal language is highly encouraged. This can help you avoid sounding disrespectful and inappropriate and help you sound polite and professional instead. Remember that formal language has a more complex grammar where the sentences are generally phrased longer and use modal verbs. In pronunciation, speech is slower when using formal language and the tone should be serious.

Informal Language

Informal language is more casual and laid back. This is commonly used with people you know well as your family and friends. You usually use this when you are in a relaxed environment. When your agenda is to share your personal thoughts or you are telling a story, you should use language that is appropriate to the scenario. Informal language has a more conversational tone, frequently using personal pronouns, informal expressions, sentences are shorter, and the feelings are more personal.

This type of language is best suited to use when telling a story, personal narrations, and social forms like blogs and personal emails. This can also be used in advertising, spontaneous speeches, networking, or socializing with your clients, meetings with your teams, text messages, and everyday conversations with your family and friends you know well. Contractions are used in informal languages to ease the flow and make the speech faster. Abbreviations and acronyms are also used to shorten the words. Colloquial language is also used to allow the casual flow of conversation. You can even insert an emoji here and there when using informal language!

Examples of Differences between Formal and Informal Language

Here are some examples of formal and informal languages used below in terms of:


Informal: It won’t turn on.

Formal: The device will not turn on.

Phrasal Verbs

Informal: I don’t want to drop out of school.

Formal: I have no intention of leaving the school.


Informal: Imma go hit him up.

Formal: I am going to contact him.


Informal: My business is going bankrupt.

Formal: My business has now officially ceased to trade.


Informal: I will send the files asap.

Formal: I will send the files as soon as I can.

First-Person Pronouns

Informal: I think my study is very useful.

Formal: The researcher is certain that the research conducted serves a lot of purposes.

Formal language is commonly used when writing. Informal language is usually used when speaking. However, this is always not the case. Always refer to the situation you are in upon deciding when to use either formal or informal language. If you are ever uncertain about whether what type of language you should use in a conversation, especially when speaking to someone older than you are or in a work environment, pay close attention to how they talk to you and try to follow their lead. However, when you are emailing someone you do not know, it is best to use formal language to be respectful and polite to the person you are emailing to.

Formal vs. Informal Words/Phrases

Learn an extensive list of 400+ formal vs. informal words and phrases in English.

Ask >>——-<< Enquire

Ask for >>——-<< Request

Book >>——-<< Reserve

Check >>——-<< Verify

Get >>——-<< Receive

Help >>——-<< Assist

Need >>——-<< Request

Say sorry >>——-<< Apologise

Start/ Begin >>——-<< Commence

End >>——-<< Terminate/ Finish

Try >>——-<< Endeavour

Deal with >>——-<< Handle

Tell >>——-<< Inform

Wait for >>——-<< Await

Fight >>——-<< Combat

Use/Eat >>——-<< Consume

Go >>——-<< Depart

Tough >>——-<< Difficult

Small >>——-<< Diminutive

Explain >>——-<< Disclose

Set out >>——-<< Display

Throw out >>——-<< Eject

Old >>——-<< Elderly

Say >>——-<< Express

Afraid >>——-<< Fearful

In the end >>——-<< Finally

Lucky >>——-<< Fortunate

But >>——-<< However

Wrong >>——-<< Incorrect

Go up >>——-<< Increase

Cheap >>——-<< Inexpensive

At first >>——-<< Initially

Mad >>——-<< Insane

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Informal and Formal WordsPin

Bright/smart >>——-<< Intelligent

Big/Large >>——-<< Enormous

Right >>——-<< Correct

A bit >>——-<< A little

Away >>——-<< Absent

Speed up >>——-<< Accelerate

Okay, ok >>——-<< Acceptable

Help >>——-<< Aid/ Assist

Let >>——-<< Allow

Call off >>——-<< Cancel

Friendly >>——-<< Amiable

Expect >>——-<< Anticipate

Seem >>——-<< Appear

Climb >>——-<< Ascend

Beat up >>——-<< Assault

Fall out >>——-<< Quarrel

Eager >>——-<< Avid

Stop >>——-<< Cease

Dare >>——-<< Challenge

Kids >>——-<< Children

Settle for >>——-<< Choose

Round >>——-<< Circular

Pick up >>——-<< Collect

Think of >>——-<< Conceive

Link up >>——-<< Connect

Think about >>——-<< Consider

Build >>——-<< Construct

Refer to >>——-<< Consult

Hurt >>——-<< Damage, harm

Go down >>——-<< Decrease

Want/ hope  >>——-<< Desire

Lack  >>——-<< Deficiency

Show >>——-<< Demonstrate

Brave >>——-<< Courageous

Pin down >>——-<< Determine

Put/ set down >>——-<< Deposit

Throw away >>——-<< Discard

Make out >>——-<< Discern

Talk about >>——-<< Discuss/consider

Give out >>——-<< Distribute

Give >>——-<< Donate

Remove >>——-<< Eliminate

Imagine >>——-<< Envisage

Break out >>——-<< Erupt

Get out >>——-<< Escape

Avoid >>——-<< Evade

Go through >>——-<< Examine

Make up >>——-<< Fabricate

Test >>——-<< Experiment

Ease >>——-<< Facilitate

Come after >>——-<< Follow

Sick >>——-<< Ill

Ask out >>——-<< Invite

Go away >>——-<< Leave/ depart

At once >>——-<< Immediately

Free >>——-<< Liberate

Deal with >>——-<< Manage

Bad >>——-<< Negative

Look into >>——-<< Investigate

Chance >>——-<< Opportunity

See >>——-<< Perceive

Happy >>——-<< Pleased

Give up >>——-<< Quit

Older >>——-<< Senior

Use >>——-<< Utilize

Enough >>——-<< Sufficient

End >>——-<< Terminate

Empty >>——-<< Vacant

Rich >>——-<< Wealthy

Mend >>——-<< Repair

Idea >>——-<< Notion

Mainly >>——-<< Principally

See >>——-<< Observe

Leave out >>——-<< Omit

Go against >>——-<< Oppose

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Hungry >>——-<< Famished

Childish >>——-<< Immature

Maybe >>——-<< Perhaps

Good >>——-<< Positive

Give >>——-<< Provide

Buy >>——-<< Purchase

Say no >>——-<< Reject

Free >>——-<< Release

Look for >>——-<< Seek

Choose >>——-<< Select

Get by >>——-<< Survive

So >>——-<< Therefore

Put up with >>——-<< Tolerate

Block >>——-<< Undermine

Catch up >>——-<< Understand

Sight >>——-<< Vision

Young >>——-<< Youthful

Get >>——-<< Obtain

Need >>——-<< Require

Pay back >>——-<< Repay

Live >>——-<< Reside

Point out >>——-<< Indicate

Find out >>——-<< Learn/Discover

Get away >>——-<< Elude

Come in >>——-<< Enter

Lively >>——-<< Energetic

Clear >>——-<< Transparent

Whole >>——-<< Entire/Complete

Blow up >>——-<< Explode

Break down >>——-<< Fail/Collapse

Hopeless >>——-<< Futile

Hit out at >>——-<< Criticise

Tired >>——-<< Exhausted/ Fatigued

Clothes >>——-<< Garment

Go before >>——-<< Precede

Thanks >>——-<< Gratitude

Hurry >>——-<< Haste, hasten

Funny >>——-<< Humorous, amusing

Better >>——-<< Improved

Dim >>——-<< Indistinct

Worse >>——-<< Inferior

Put in >>——-<< Insert

Bring in >>——-<< Introduce

Make up >>——-<< Invent

Kidding >>——-<< Jesting

Naked >>——-<< Nude

Childish >>——-<< Infantile

A lot of >>——-<< Numerous

Stubborn >>——-<< Obstinate

Danger >>——-<< Peril

Put off >>——-<< Postpone

Here >>——-<< Present

Keep >>——-<< Preserve

Go ahead >>——-<< Proceed

Go after >>——-<< Pursue

Anyways >>——-<< Nevertheless

Let >>——-<< Permit

Sweat >>——-<< Perspiration

Look at >>——-<< Regard

Laid back >>——-<< Relaxed

Take out >>——-<< Remove

Rack up >>——-<< Accumulate

Over >>——-<< At an end

Good looking >>——-<< Attractive

Good for >>——-<< Beneficial

By >>——-<< By means of

Lead to >>——-<< Cause

Complex >>——-<< Convoluted

Go out of >>——-<< Exit

Death >>——-<< Demise

Break off >>——-<< Suspend/adjourn

Also >>——-<< In addition, additionally

Wood >>——-<< Timber

Describe >>——-<< Depict

Go on >>——-<< Continue

In charge of >>——-<< Responsible

Enjoyment >>——-<< Gratification

Dirty/ polluted >>——-<< Contaminated

Again & again >>——-<< Repeatedly

Marvelous >>——-<< Exceptional

Really big >>——-<< Considerable

Can >>——-<< Is capable of

Fork out  >>——-<< Pay (money)

Talk into >>——-<< Persuade

Come up to >>——-<< Reach/attain

Iron out >>——-<< Solve/overcome (a problem/difficulty)

Next/later >>——-<< Subsequently

Try out >>——-<< Test

Call on >>——-<< Visit

Drop out of >>——-<< Withdraw (from)

Look up to >>——-<< Respect

Look like >>——-<< Resemble

Job >>——-<< Occupation

Dad >>——-<< Father

Boss >>——-<< Employer

Formal and Informal Words | Images

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