Formal and Informal Language

What is the difference between formal and informal language?

Formal and informal language serve different purposes in written communications depending on the reader (Audience) and reason for writing (Purpose). The tone, the choice of words and the way the words are put together vary between the two different styles.

Formal language is less personal than informal language. It is used when writing for professional or academic purposes like graduate school assignments. Formal language does not use colloquialisms, contractions or first-person pronouns such as “I” or “We.”

Informal language is more casual and spontaneous. It is used when communicating with friends or family either in writing or in conversation. It is used when writing personal emails, text messages and in some business correspondence. The tone of informal language is more personal than formal language.

Examples of formal and informal language are shown below:


  • Informal:The improvements can’t be made due to budget cuts.
  • Formal: Improvements cannot be made due to budget restrictions.

Phrasal Verbs

  • The balloon was blown up for the experiment.
  • The balloon was inflated for the experiment


  • Professors still count on students to use correct grammar and punctuation in essays.
  • Professors expect students to use correct grammar and punctuation in essays.

First Person Pronouns

  • I considered various research methods for the study.
  • Various research methods were considered for the study.
  • During the interview we asked the applicants for a personal reference.
  • During the interview applicants were asked to provide a personal reference.