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Do you know the difference between formal, semi-formal, and informal English?

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English is the global medium for communication and the widespread reach of this language guarantees many versions of English. However, there are three primary levels of formality in English, which is formal, semi-formal and informal English. All three types have their distinct characteristics and flavors. You need to be aware of the intricacies as to when to use which type of English. Understanding this will help you to improve the fluency of your spoken English. The  sections given below will help you to understand the details of the three types and the likely scenarios to use them.

formal

A. FORMAL ENGLISH

This type of English is used in office conversations, interviews and for speaking to strangers. The case in point is that you don't know the other person very well and not on a first name basis. The majority of the communication in formal English happens in the written medium, i.e., official reports, business letters, academic articles, contracts, and official speeches. Below are some examples of formal English.

Email:

1. Dear Sir/Madam,
2. Hope everything is going well at your end.
3. Although the fault line was repaired on 2nd Feb, payment for this service has still not been
received.
4. We regret to inform you that....
5. His insufficient performance contributed to his dismissal.

Spoken:

1. How are you, Mr./Mrs.....?
2. I hope you are fine.
3. May we know when you intend to pay us for the services rendered?
4. We are sorry, but........
5. His performance was not up to the mark; hence we had to let him go.

semi-formal

B. SEMI FORMAL ENGLISH:

Semi formal is the fine line between formal and informal. It signifies that you know the person, but not on a personal level. It is used occasionally and the majority of the usage comes from the corporate environment. Day-to-day interaction with colleagues is one instance. Refer the below examples:

Email:

1. Dear Mr. Donald.

Spoken:

1. How did the lunch meeting go?

C. INFORMAL ENGLISH:

Informal English is used when you are personal friends with your listeners. You know the person for a long time. This format is commonly used in families, friends and colleges. The majority of the usage comes from spoken English and in English conversations while chatting. This may be the format that you use in your daily English conversations.

Examples:

Spoken:

1. Dear Gamby
2. Our technician repaired the problem on 2nd Feb. Now it's your turn to pay.
3. How is it going buddy?
4. I am sorry, but.....
5. He did not perform as per expectations; hence we had to fire him.

Email:

1. I am attaching the family vacation photos, hope you enjoy it.
2. With lots of love
3. If you need any help, give me a call.

informal English

The above formats and explanation will help you to understand the difference formal, semi formal and informal English. Understand the concepts clearly to improve your spoken English skills. Take the help of an online English speaker for practice and communication tests. Read conversations related to different situations to understand more about the differences.

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- By Shailja Varma

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