How to Avoid Colloquial (Informal) Writing

When we talk with family or friends, we often feel comfortable using informal and familiar language. For example, if a friend asked you, “Where are you going?”, You probably would not answer, “I’m going to the beach. In an informal conversation, we often use sentence fragments and contractions to save time. During a conversation, we are also unable to stop what we are doing to search for facts and statistics, so we could use imprecise words such as “a lot”, “okay”, and “et cetera” . We can find ourselves using slang, colloquialisms, and vague or unclear words when speaking with our friends and family, but formal writing requires precise and unambiguous language.

Understand the difference between formal and informal English. Formal and informal writing is intended for different audiences. For example, an informal letter written to a friend seeks to create a friendly, conversational tone and can use contractions (eg, “do not,” “we go,” and “let”), slang (eg, “awesome” or “cool”), and informal grammar (for example, “It’s me, Susan” or “Who did you vote for yesterday?”). On the other hand, an official letter written to an employer must be free from any familiar language and use proper grammar and punctuation. Formal and informal English differs in diction and grammatical structures. Informal English can include familiar phrases such as “contraption”, “fire”, “kid”, “how come” and “quote” as a noun. A formal writer might prefer “device”, “reject”, “child”, “why” and “quote”. Informal writing may sound more like conversation, while formal writing may be more polite. An informal style can make listeners more comfortable when you speak, but a formal style of writing can make a good impression.

Learn How to Improve the Professional Writing

Use the appropriate punctuation. For example, American English uses a colon in a formal letter as in “Dear John:” but British English uses a comma. Limit parentheses, exclamation points, and hyphens (prefer colons) in the formal writing. Avoid the ampersand (&); write the word “and”. Sand your writing as you go to reduce the risk of missing punctuation.

Avoid familiar familiar words and expressions (colloquialisms), such as “cute” (use “adorable”), “yeah” (use “yes”), “how-do-you-do” and “movie” (use ” movie “”), as shown below or labeled as such in your dictionary.This includes slang as “cool”, “dude” and “humongous” as well as short forms such as “TV”, “phone” and “Fridge.” Two good phrases to delete are “you know” and “you think maybe.” You do not have the power to know your readers’ thoughts while they read your diary. “Think about it.” Suppose your readers are already thinking about what they read and express your point of view more clearly.The adverb “pretty”, which means “relatively”, “enough” or “quite”, is unacceptable in formal writing and is often useless.

Remove emotions or opinion words. Formal writing should be as objective as possible. Try to present a fair and balanced view of the question you are writing about. Note that “balanced” does not necessarily mean that you have to spend as much space on each side, as one side can be much stronger than the other. It also means limiting the pronouns of first and second person. The use of “you” and “your” can sometimes make your writing too personal or even emotional. Avoid writing “We should all …” because when we use this sentence, we assume that everyone will act the same way. Another sentence to avoid is “I think …”; Instead, provide convincing reasons why you think so. Also avoid saying that you like or like something; Instead, focus on why you like it. Instead of writing “I love Osmosis Jones because he teaches children about the human body,” you could write, “Osmosis Jones is a powerful teaching tool that shows kids how the human body works.

Avoid clichés to be formal. Formal writing tries to use a literal language that will not be misunderstood by any of the readers. Clichés can make your writing unconventional, but sometimes they can be fun in casual writing, especially as an original word game called an anti-cliché. Here are some clichés to avoid in formal writing:

Hercules was as strong as an ox.

Avoid vague words such as “good”, “bad” and “nice”. Consider more beneficial as “beneficial”, “deleterious” and “pleasant”. Do not finish a list with “etc.” or “et cetera” in formal writing. If these additional examples are important, you must write “and so on”, you may want to take the account. Eliminate words such as “some” or “enough” and discuss specific numbers and quantities.

Avoid phrasal verbs such as “put up with” or “make up”. Instead, choose strong verbs such as “tolerate” or “composer”.

Use the appropriate grammar. In particular, your use of pronouns, such as “I” and “me” and “who” and “who”. Make sure all your verbs are in harmony with their subjects. A common mistake was to use a plural verb: “A group of these doctors is not concerned by global warming”. Look for suspended participants (eg, “Shaded by a palm tree, the waiter offered me a tropical drink”), divide the infinitives (eg, “go hard”), and the terminal prepositions sent you the letter? Avoid starting sentences with coordinating conjunctions such as “and” or “but,” using other types of transitions instead.

Always include the relative pronoun in the formal writing. You can also rephrase the sentence to remove the pronoun. Use it for things and for people (which relative pronoun will always be the object).

“This is the poem John wrote.”

“This is the poem John wrote.” Or “John wrote this poem”.

“These are the people we love the most.”

“These are the people we love the most.” Or “We love these people the most”.

Develop short and jerky sentences in longer and more graceful sentences. Formal writing generally uses longer sentences: complex, complex and complex sentences. You can develop two or more simple sentences in one of the sentence structures listed above. Long sentences add variety to your writing and can be further developed when combined with short sentences; the contrast captures the attention of readers. As the last sentence shows, you can also use a semicolon to join two simple sentences, provided that they are associated with each other.


My name is David Lieberman. I work as the president of As one of the founding members of, I have helped the company from its initial concept into the leading digital automotive marketplace. Also, I am a technology investor and advisor, helping companies and entrepreneurs with their projects and sites.

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