Informal Writing: A Beginner’s Guide to Casual Writing

Informalwriting, like casual clothes, could be used almost anywhere, like at a sports game, a party, or a get-together with friends or family. Everyone knows each other, the mood is carefree, and no one expects you to have a good vocabulary or speak in a certain way.

Characteristics of Formal and Informal Writing

Several characteristics can determine whether a piece of writing is composed formally or informally.

The primary features of an informal style of writing:

1. Colloquial terms and language

Informal writing resembles a casual chat. It may consequently contain slang, idioms, grammatical errors, etc.

 A tone as though you were speaking straight to the audience (readers). 

Informal writing is in a conversational tone. The author often employs the first person (I and us) and will directly address the reader in the second person (you and your). 

2. A straightforward structure and method

As in conversation, informal writing features shorter sentences and paragraphs. This is especially true for internet writing. 

Additionally, writers may employ incomplete sentences or ellipses (…) to convey their points. 

3. The material contains abbreviations and contractions

In informal writing, words are reduced or truncated similarly to spoken words. Therefore, contractions (such as I’m, doesn’t, couldn’t, it’s) and abbreviations (such as TV, images) is more prevalent in this writing style. 

4. Emotion and empathy

In informal writing, a writer will frequently demonstrate greater reader empathy. They may, for instance, clarify a more complicated concept. This is due to the more intimate tone of casual writing, which lends itself better to portraying emotions.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Which Style is Suitable?

Knowing the distinction between formal and informal writing is merely the beginning of the battle. The second crucial factor is understanding which to employ.

Here are some instances where formal versus informal writing would be appropriate.

Employ Informal Writing When:

  •  Composing a letter to a buddy 
  • Creating a personal blog or sharing a tale 
  • Instructed to carry out informal writing in school 
  • Dialogue and conversational writing 
  • Developing an outline

Employ formal Writing When:

  • Writing for a living (reaching out to a client or prospect)
  • Writings for school (essays, research papers, etc.)
  • Applications for jobs (resume writing, CVs, and cover letters)
  • Trying to get in touch with someone you don’t know

What Does Formal Writing Mean?

As the name suggests, formal writing is writing that is meant to be formal. In other words, formal writing follows a set of writing rules. If you want your writing to be formal, you must follow specific rules or keep them in mind.

Formal writing is for formal situations such as when a person is not friendly with the person they are writing to. Formal writing is common in all workplaces, and some organizations may have strict rules about what should and shouldn’t be in formal writing.

Some people find it hard to write in a formal style because there are rules to follow. Rules such as using the right words, not repeating words, not using jargon or an emotional tone, and other things.

Formal writing uses passive voice and has long complicated sentences. Also, personal pronouns like “I,” “We,” “You,” etc., are not used in formal writing. Formal writing is for business, school, and other professional reasons. If formal writing is used correctly, it can show respect to the person it is for.

What Does Informal Writing Mean?

As the name suggests, informal writing is writing that is informal. In other words, informal writing is a style or way of writing that is friendly, casual, or not formal.

Colloquialisms are for informal writing. The writing is casual, friendly, and maybe even slangy. There is a lot of active voice in informal writing, and the focus is on the subject. A lot of first- and second-person pronouns like “I,” “we,” and “you” are used in informal writing. In conversation, informal writing can also have a lot of emotional overdoses.

In informal writing, there aren’t any rules about making the conversation flow. The way we join words in informal writing can be loose or structured. If it’s a casual piece of writing, the conversation may be slang. In informal writing, the sentences are short and straightforward.

Formal Language vs. Informal Language: The Differences

Formal and casual language is used for different things. The two styles are different in tone, word choice, and words. Formal language is not as personal as informal language. In formal writing, you don’t use slang, contractions, or first-person pronouns like “I” or “We.”

Informal language is less stiff and more natural. It is used when talking or writing to friends or family. It is used in personal emails, text messages, and business letters. Informally spoken language has a more personal tone than formally spoken language.

To Wrap Up

Depending on the circumstances of the case and the intended audience, professional or casual writing is used.

If you are unsure whether to use informal or formal writing, it’s generally the rule of thumb to start writing formally. Then, when you make the connection and see how the other side responds, you can ease up on the formality.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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