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Appropriate Level  of  Formality  


Different audiences  require  different  level  of  formali4es.      

You wouldn’t  a9end  a  Presiden4al  Inaugura4on  wearing  a  hoodie,  so  why  would  you   write  an  academic  paper  using  informal  language?  

Writing to  Your  Friends  and  Family     When  you  write  an  email  to  your  friends  or  family,  you   will  probably  use  idioms  and  informal  phrases.     ì   That  test  was  a  piece  of  cake.  This  means  the  test  

was easy  

ì  I’m  broke  aFer  spending  so  much  money  at  the  

beach. This  means  I’m  out  of  money.  

ì  I’m about  to  start  a  new  job.  About  to  is  an  informal  

phrase appropriate  for  informal  wri4ng  only.    

Writing for  Your  Teacher  or  Academic  Audience       When  you  turn  in  a  paper  to  your  teacher,  you  cannot  use  idioms  and   informal  phrases.  Here  are  a  few  rules  to  remember  before  wri4ng  a   paper  for  a  teacher  or  any  academic  audience.     ì  Do  not  use  contrac4ons  (don’t,  can’t,  shouldn’t,  etc…)   ì  Unless  you  are  asked  to  do  so,  do  not  use  the  first  person.   ì  Assume  your  audience  has  some  background  knowledge  on  the  


ì  Vary your  sentence  style;  include  compound  and  complex  sentences.   ì  Never  use  text  abbrevia4ons  (lol,  rofl,  cuz,  etc…)  

Informal Made  Formal   Informal  Language    

Formal Language    

The humans  were  caught  off   AFer  the  animals’  surprise  a9ack  in  the   guard  in  the  Ba9le  of  the   Ba9le  of  the  Cowshed,  Mr.  Jones   Cowshed.  Mr.  Jones  was  afraid  to   retreated  and  never  returned.     go  back  to  his  farm.   Caught  off  guard  was  eliminated  because   it  is  an  idiom.    The  ideas  of  two  simple   sentences  were  combined  to  create  one   complex  sentence.    

This example  refers  to  George  Orwell’s  Animal  Farm  (1945).  

Informal Made  Formal  Again   Informal  


I think  it’s  wrong  for  TV  sta4ons   It  is  unethical  for  television  networks  to   make  a  profit  from  showing  people  in   to  take  advantage  of  people   4mes  of  tragedy.     suffering.     Unless  your  instructed  otherwise,  present   your  opinion  as  fact.  This  is  known  as   objec4ve  wri4ng   It  is  replaces  it  in  formal  wri4ng.     Television  networks  replaces  TV  sta4ons.   This  sentence  is  more  specific  because  it   gives  a  specific  example  of  how  television   networks  take  advantage  of  people.      

One More  Example     Informal   ì  Napoleon  kept  tricking  the  

other animals  because  he   wanted  to  be  in  charge  and  live   in  the  house.    

Formal ì  Napoleon  con4nued  to  

deceive the  other  animals   because  he  wanted  to  remain   the  leader  and  live  in  the   house.    

ì  Kept tricking  was  changed  to  

con4nued to  deceive.    

ì  Be in  charge  is  an  informal  

phrase.   This  example  refers  to  George  Orwell’s  Animal  Farm  (1945).  

Levels of formality