Difference Between Formal and Informal Writing

The main difference between formal and informal writing lies in their purpose. Formal writing is used for professional and academic goals. Informal writing is used for non-professional and personal reasons.

Key Definition of Formal Writing

A formal piece of writing is employed when:

  • We do not know the recipient
  • The recipient is known but have not spoken with them
  • We are not on friendly terms with the recipient.

We employ formal language that conveys respect and deference for the reader. Formal writing is for academic, professional, and legal writing.

Essential Considerations and Rules to Follow in Formal Writing

  • Polite word choice and tone.
  • No use of singular pronouns in first and second person
  • Use of positive and literal language in academic writing.
  • Non-use of Repetition and generalization.
  • Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • No use of contractions, clichés, colloquial diction and abbreviations
  • Extensive and concluded sentences.
  • Do not use jargon.
  • No emotional expression
  • Referencing of all statistics
  • You should include objective evidence.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Definition of Informal Writing

The informal style of writing is one used for personal and casual conversation, wherein friendly and colloquial language is used. In an informal writing style, personal and emotional tone is used, and the reader is directly referred by the words ‘you’ or ‘your’. It is used when writing personal emails, text messages, letters to friends and family etc.

Essential Considerations and Rules to Follow in Informal Writing

  • There is usage of contractions, abbreviations, and brief sentences.
  • Common, brief, and basic language.
  • Personalized and subjective
  • Loose structure
  • Utilizes both first and second-person pronouns
  • Acceptable slang and cliché usage
  • It is possible to employ imperatives.

Difference between Formal and Informal writing

  • Formal writing is used for business, legal, academic, and professional purposes. Informal writing, on the other hand, is employed for personal or casual purposes.
  • Informal writing has a personal and emotional tone, whereas formal writing requires a professional tone. In formal writing, the use of slang is quite uncommon, although it is prevalent in informal writing.
  • Formulaic language is utilized when writing formally, which consists of predetermined word forms. In contrast, informal writing is clear.
  • Passive voice is employed in formal writing. In contrast, active voice is utilized in informal writing.
  • In formal writing, conjunctions are replaced by linking words. Interjections are generally avoided in formal writing, therefore exclamation marks are not utilized. In informal writing, however, interjections are regularly used.
  • When referring to the audience in a formal piece of writing, the first-person plural or third-person singular is employed. In contrast, informal writing uses the single form of the first person to refer to the reader.
  • Formal writing is written in a way that doesn’t show any warmth or honesty. Informal writing is more casual and comes out of the blue.
  • Formal writing doesn’t have a personal or expressive tone. Informal language has a more friendly tone than formal language. It is a general way to write that is used when writing to close friends and family.
  • Formal writing is made clear in the first or second paragraph of the essay. Informal writing is not made clear and could show up anywhere in an article.
  • Formal writing uses sentence structures that are hard to understand. For informal writing, the sentence structure needs to be simple.

To Wrap Up

Formal writing is meant for a teacher, boss, head, or any other person in charge with whom you don’t have a close relationship. Informal language is meant for people like friends, siblings, etc. This piece of writing has personal emails, text messages, etc.

Their styles of writing, word choice, tone, syntax, and vocabulary are what set them apart. All of them are different depending on the time and place.

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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