Back to: Pedagogy of English- Unit 5
Formal writing includes the use of standard English, less use of personal pronouns, lack of slang terms and colloquial words, and more complex sentence structures. Informal language includes the use of nonstandard English forms, shorter sentence structures, and colloquial vocabulary. When one chooses to write in either formal or informal style, it affects certain areas which include standard or nonstandard English, use of contractions, use of pronouns, and choice of vocabulary.
Characteristics of Formal Writing
The main characteristics of formal writing are as follows:
Formal writing often includes long sentences and it also follows a more structured approach where points are introduced, explained, and concluded clearly. They are also carefully planned, revised, and reviewed several times to ensure clarity.
The writer uses a more objective approach in formal writing where the main points are stated and supported with arguments. It does not contain much emotion and hence, avoids the dominant usage of emotive punctuations unless they are cited.
Third person usage
Formal writing is not a personal form of writing and the writer oftens sounds dispassionate about the concerned topic due to which, it is inappropriate to use the first person or second person.
Use of full words
Contractions are never used to simplify words in formal writing. Abbreviations must be spelled out fully initially except for things whose abbreviations are more well-known than the full name.
Characteristics of Informal Writing
The main characteristics of informal writing are as follows:
Simple structure and approach
In informal writing, sentences, as well as paragraphs, are shorter which is particularly true for internet content. Writers may also make points using incomplete sentences or ellipses.
Empathy and emotion
A writer shows more empathy towards the reader in informal writing and they may be able to explain a complex thought more clearly.
Colloquial language and terms
Informal writing includes the usage of figures of speech, broken syntax, slang, and the like and hence, it is similar to a spoken conversation.
Contractions and abbreviations
In informal writing, words may be abbreviated or shortened and hence, contractions and abbreviations are dominantly used in informal writing.
This form of writing is often conversational in style and hence, uses a personal tone. The writer often uses the first person and addresses the reader using the second person.
One cannot state that formal writing is better than informal writing as there is a particular time and place for both forms of writing. Hence, it depends upon the writer to analyze the situation properly and choose an appropriate writing style.