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  • Hi, Sian here for BBC Learning English. In this Masterclass we're going to look at some

  • differences between formal and informal English.

  • Hey, how's it going? Good afternoon, how are you?

  • Sometimes formal and informal can seem like two different languages. In the same

  • way you wouldn't normally wear shorts and a t-shirt to a job interview, if you use language

  • that's too formal or too informal, you can give a bad impression. Let's look at some

  • differences between formal and informal English. Now, I received an email this morning. Have

  • a look at this email - do you think the language is formal or informal - and why?

  • Dear Mrs Brown,

  • I'm writing to find out whether you have any jobs in your company this summer.

  • At the mo I'm studying Economics at uni.

  • I have been working part-time in a shop and recently they promoted me to the role of manager.

  • I am enthusiastic. I work hard. I pay attention to detail.

  • Ok, so that email used informal language and it's too informal for this style of letter.

  • We're going to look at four features that make this informal and we're going to change

  • it to make it more formal.

  • Number one: choice of vocabulary. In informal English we use more common words and more

  • phrasal verbs. For example here we have a phrasal verb: find out. It would be better

  • to use a more formal equivalent like enquire. Same with jobs, this is quite informal, so

  • instead let's use vacancies here. Instead we have "I'm writing to enquire whether you

  • have any vacancies."

  • Number two: It's more common in informal language to use abbreviations, contractions, shortened

  • forms of verbs. Let's have a look. So, here we have at the mo, which is short for at the

  • moment. This is OK when you're speaking, but not when you're writing. Here, we could use

  • currently which is even more formal. Same here, uni is short for university, so don't

  • use this short form in a letter. "Currently, I am studying Economics at university."

  • Quite often in formal language we choose passive structures over active. Let's have a look

  • here. The active sentences they promoted me is quite informal - it'd be much better to

  • use a passive form here to make it more formal: I was promoted. So, "Recently I was promoted

  • to the role of manager." This doesn't mean don't use active structures in a formal letter,

  • but have a think about whether a passive one is more appropriate.

  • Finally, in informal English, short, simple sentences are much more common. Whereas in

  • formal English, we use more complex structures. Take a look at this one. Here

  • we have three short, simple sentences and this is fine in informal English, but in formal

  • English it's better to use a complex structure. We can do this by adding relative pronouns

  • or linkers. For example, "I am an enthusiastic person who works hard and pays attention to detail.

  • So, would you kindly visit our website... ah, we're friends, that's too formal. Go to

  • our website bbclearningenglish.com for more information about this and to practise formal

  • and informal English. See you soon - goodbye!

Hi, Sian here for BBC Learning English. In this Masterclass we're going to look at some

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B1 UK informal formal promoted language passive short

BBC Masterclass: Formal and informal English

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    Nicolas Kau posted on 2017/03/25
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