Author Topic: Common colloquial words  (Read 2086 times)


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Common colloquial words
« on: January 25, 2014, 08:52:39 AM »
Academic writing requires accurate, formal English. The following guide addresses common colloquial words and expressions that are often mistakenly used in formal writing. Please, take a look at the rules below and try to follow them in future.

- Anybody, anyone: Anyone and its variants are more formal than anybody and its variants.

As: As is often used in formal writing to mean because. Placing a comma before “as” can help prevent ambiguity when it could also be understood to mean “when” or “where.”

Big, large, great: All these words are acceptable in formal English, but large is more formal than big, and "great" is more formal than "large."

Fellow: Avoid using fellow when you mean a person. Calling someone a fellow is more formal than calling him or her a dude, but fellow is still a colloquialism.

For sure - Replace "for sure" with "with certainty"in formal writing."

Get - Avoid all forms of this verb in formal writing: “I received an A in the course.” vs. “I got an A in the course”; “She did not understand the joke.” vs. “She didn’t get the joke.”; “The machine is never used.” vs. “The machine never gets used.”;

Got: Got is a colloquialism. Replace it with have, as in “Do you have [not "got"] an extra pen?"

Kind of, sort of - "Kind of" and "sort of" are unacceptable in formal writing when used for "somewhat" and "rather." When used to categorize something, "kind of" and "sort of" are acceptable, but "type of" is more formal: “Kestrel is a type of bird." Note that it is informal to include an article after "of": "Kestrel is a type of a bird."

Let - When used in place of "allow" or "permit," "let" is a colloquialism.

Most - In formal English, do not use "most" for "almost." You should write, "Almost everyone likes pizza," not "Most everyone likes pizza."

On the other hand - "On the other hand" is a very common phrase, but can be considered a cliché and should, therefore, be avoided in extremely formal English. Instead, use "conversely" or "by contrast." "On the other hand" is particularly useful in everyday writing and can eliminate the temptation to start with "but."

So - Avoid using "so" as a synonym for "very" in extremely formal writing. In perfectly formal writing, you also should avoid using "so" as a coordinating conjunction. You can eliminate this colloquialism by deleting "so" and beginning the sentence with "because." Compare "The song may bother me, so I’ll cover my ears" and "Because the song may bother me, I shall cover my ears." Sometimes, you need the conjunction "that" after "so," as in "I wrote this how-to so that you could improve your grammar and style."

"-ly" - Usually, the words ending "-ly" are more formal. For example, "firstly" is more formal than "first."