Sunday, July 15, 2007

Informal and Formal Writing

Question: What are the differences between informal and formal writing?

Answer: Informal writing is much like conversational speaking. Formal writing aims for clear, precise expression.

In informal writing, we use contractions; needless repetition; words like "there," "get," "thing" and "it" that rob our writing of precision. We also use the "demonstrative pronouns," "this," "that," "these" and "those" without clearly establishing their antecedents, the words to which they refer. Beginning sentences with "And" and "But" would also be classified as conversational. However, the most significant characteristic of informal English is using the 'I" and "you" points of view.

The value of conversational, informal writing is that it connects with readers and readers respond as if to a conversation. Informal writing is also easier for writers. In fact, when you aren't sure of what you want to say, you might find it easier if you say what you think you want to say as informally as possible, and then transform it into formal English. Use the "I" point of view to begin.

Formal writing means eliminating most of the characteristics of informal, conversational expression--contractions; needless repetition; "there," "get," "thing," "it"; demonstrative pronouns without clear antecedents; beginning sentences with "And" and "But" and using the "I" and "you" points of view. Formal written expression uses the third-person point of view. Formal writing aims at clear, precise expression.

In the real world, informal and formal styles are often mixed.

Tomorrow, I will give you an example of a paragraph written informally compared to the same paragraph written formally.

All the best. RayS.

No comments: