How to Avoid Colloquial (Informal) Writing
While it may be acceptable in e-mail or in chat rooms, excessive colloquialism can diminish
the quality of a formal written text. Presentation may be improved by applying the following techniques:
1. Understand the difference between formal and informal English.
Formal and informal English differ in word choice, word usage, and grammatical structures. Informal writing may sound more like conversation while formal writing may be more polished
. An informal style may make listeners feel more comfortable when you are speaking, but a formal writing style can make a good impression.
Informal writing might utilize the words "contraption
," "fire," "kid," "how come," and "quote" as a noun. A formal writer might prefer "device," "dismiss," "child," "why," and "quotation."
非正式写作常用到这些词汇：contraption, fire, kid, how come, quote（动词用作名词）；正式写作则会使用：device, dismiss, child, why, quotation。
2．Use appropriate punctuation.
For example, American English employs a colon in a formal letter as in “Dear John:” but British English employs a comma.
例如，美式英语的正式书信会在称呼后面加冒号（Dear John:），而英式英语则使用的是逗号（Dear John,）。
, exclamation points, and dashes (prefer colons) in formal writing.
Avoid the ampersand (&); write out the word “and.” Punctuate your writing as you go along to reduce your risk of leaving out punctuation.
3．Avoid common colloquial words and expressions (colloquialisms), such as "cute" (use "adorable"), "yeah," "how-do-you-do," and "movie" (use "film"), as listed below or labeled as such in your dictionary.
This includes slang such as "cool," "dude," and "humongous." Two good phrases to delete are "you know" and “you might be thinking.” You do not have the power to know your readers’ thoughts while they read your paper.
口语表达还包括俚语cool、dude 和humongous；另外还有两个一定不要出现在正式写作中的短语you know 和you might be thinking。你不用了解读者在阅读你的文章时内心的想法。
Another empty sentence is “Think about it.” Assume that your readers are already thinking about what they are reading, and state your point more clearly. The adverb “pretty,” meaning “relatively," "fairly," or "quite,” is unacceptable in all formal writing and is often unnecessary.
另外一个意义空泛的句子是Think about it，因为读者在读文章时已经在思考，所以你只需要把你的观点表达得更加清晰就可以。副词pretty（与relatively意义相同）、fairly 或 quite 也不应该出现在正式写作中，因为它们通常是多余的表达。
4．Do not use contractions.
Note that the full form of "can't" is one word: "cannot," not "can not."
记住can’t 的完整形式是一个单词 cannot（而不是can not）。
5．Try to avoid the first and second person.
Formal writing often tries to be objective, and the pronouns "I" and "you" tend to imply subjectivity
. Phrases such as "I think that" can be deleted from a sentence when it is obvious that this is the author’s opinion. Using the pronoun "I" is almost always acceptable in personal writing, and the pronoun "you" is almost always acceptable in letters and how-to’s. In the most formal writing, the pronoun “I” is replaced by the pronoun “we”; this is known as the royal we or the editorial
we. Formal writing generally avoids the pronoun “you” when it refers to people in general.
正式写作力求客观，而人称代词 I 和 you 则表达的是主观概念。I think that 这样的短语应该从句子中删除掉，因为这明显代表的是作者的主观意见。第一人称 I 可以出现在私人写作中，而第二人称 you 通常在书信和指南类写作中可以使用。在大部分的正式写作中，用 we 代替 I，皇室声明或者社论文章中都使用的we。正式写作一般在指一般人时，很少用到you：
非正式表达：You should sleep eight hours each night.
正式表达： One should sleep eight hours each night.
偶尔使用的正式表达：Most people should sleep at least eight hours each night.
Do not hesitate to split an infinitive when it is warranted
are common in legal writing, an important type of formal English. In fact, the split infinitive is encountered in the most formal of writing. Split infinitives can be used even in very formal writing that avoids the active voice. Infinitives, along with gerunds
, contribute to an active writing style and show action but are not actually in the active voice. Voice is a property of clauses, and infinitives and gerunds form phrases. Split infinitives are grammatically correct.
Do not be afraid to separate the auxiliary
(helping) verb and the main verb.
分离助动词和主要动词。如One might confidently think that...
8. Know when to end a sentence with a preposition (even in the most formal of English).
9. Always include the relative pronoun.
In formal English, you should be sure to always include "whom" or "which" even when they are not essential to your meaning. The relative pronoun can be omitted when only a participle is used; in that case, there is no longer a relative clause. Also, avoid using 'that' as a relative pronoun and replace it with 'which', 'whom' or 'who'.
在正式的英语表达中，就算在意思上不需要，也还是要记得加上 whom 和 which。只有在出现分词时关系代词才可以省略，在这种情况下已经不存在关系从句。另外少用 that 多用 which/whom/who 等关系代词。
非正式表达：This is the paper I wrote.
正式表达： This is the paper which I wrote.
最正式表达：That was the paper written by me.
This version uses the past participle and does not contain a relative clause. It is the most formal version because it does not contain any verbs in the active voice.
正式表达：The bear which was dancing was graceful.
更正式表达：The bear dancing was graceful.
“Dancing” is not active; it is not even a verb and is actually an adjective; this becomes clearer when the sentence is rewritten as “The dancing bear was graceful.”
Dancing不是主动语态，也不是个动词，其实是形容词。如果我们把这个句子重新改写成 The dancing bear was graceful 就能看得更清楚一些。
10. Do not start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction.
In the written language, do not use coordinating conjunctions such as "and,” "but," “so,” or “or” to start a sentence. Coordinating conjunctions are meant to join words, phrases, and clauses; a coordinating conjunction is left dangling
without a role to play when it comes at the beginning of a sentence.
Consider attaching the sentence that starts with a coordinating conjunction to the previous sentence, substituting the period for a comma to produce a compound sentence. You can also use transitional
adverbs such as “additionally” (or “moreover”), “nevertheless” (or “however”), “therefore” (or “thus”), and “alternatively” (or “instead” or “otherwise”).
Develop short, choppy
sentences into longer, more graceful sentences.
Formal writing generally uses longer sentences: compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. You can develop two or more simple sentences into one of the previously listed sentence structures. Long sentences add variety to your writing and can be particularly effective when paired with short sentences; the contrast grabs the readers' attention. As the last sentence shows, you also can use a semicolon to join two simple sentences, provided that they are closely related to each other.
12. Avoid clichés to be formal.
Formal writing tries to use literal language that will not be misunderstood by any of the readers. Clichés can make your writing unoriginal
, but they can sometimes be fun in casual writing, especially as an original play-on-words. Here are some clichés to avoid in formal writing:
Hercules was as strong as an ox. （as strong as an ox：力大如牛）
I have to give an arm and a leg to find a parking spot during the holiday season. （give an arm and a leg：价格昂贵）
It was as pretty as a picture.（as pretty as a picture：秀丽如画）
13. Avoid stage directions.
Do not commence
a letter by telling the recipient what you plan to do in the letter or begin an essay by telling the reader what the paper will discuss.
"I am writing to you to ask you to. . . ."
"This paper is going to talk about how. . . ."
14. Avoid vague words.
Vague words are less formal and are open to interpretation; they do not express your ideas as well as more precise words would. "A few" or "enough" can often be replaced by something more precise.
模糊词汇不够正式，容易造成仁者见仁智者见智的情况。选用一些更为具体的词汇，可能更能准确地表达我们的意思。在正式写作中，a few 和 enough 通常都会被更为准确的词汇替代。