[Vocabulary] should I avoid slang and informal language?

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JiriLindovsky

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Good afternoon,
I came across this book(A Year In the Life of an ESL by Edward J. Francis).
Everybody says it's a must-have book.
Is it really important to study this book? Or should i avoid informal language?
Should I avoid formal English?

I am studying English for my job, I am collecting marketing information over the web. I am not going to fly to the U.S.A. I try to study for IELTS. English is very rich language. Should I prefer only neutral words, phrases,idioms first? Is it possible? Sure, I don't want speak like a book or William Shakespeare, but where's the border?


For example: I came across "check this out!". I think it's a useful phrase, but many dictionaries avoid it and if not so , it reads "very informal".

Thanks for Your advice,

Jiri
 

emsr2d2

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Good afternoon,
I came across this book(A Year In the Life of an ESL by Edward J. Francis).
Everybody says it's a must-have book.
Is it really important to study this book? Or should i avoid informal language?
Should I avoid formal English?

I am studying English for my job, I am collecting marketing information over the web. I am not going to fly to the U.S.A. I try to study for IELTS. English is very rich language. Should I prefer only neutral words, phrases,idioms first? Is it possible? Sure, I don't want speak like a book or William Shakespeare, but where's the border?


For example: I came across "check this out!". I think it's a useful phrase, but many dictionaries avoid it and if not so , it reads "very informal".

Thanks for Your advice,

Jiri

My personal feeling is that once you are comfortable with using a language, then there's no reason why you shouldn't start to add in slang.

Informal language is a little different, and it entirely depends on your meaning. The difference between formal and informal, to me, is the difference between the way you would speak to your boss and the way you would speak to your friends. If you meet a friend in the street and say "Hiya. How's it going?" that's perfectly normal, but with your boss, you're more likely to say "Good morning. How are you?"

I certainly wouldn't expect you to say "Good morning. How are you?" when you meet a friend, so in that example using "informal" language while you're still a relative beginner is fine.

Slang is different and can be quite hard to master. If you use it in the wrong way, people might not understand what you're trying to say and you may end up feeling silly.

By the way, I've never heard of that book - can't you borrow it from the library and take a look? If you think it's useful, then great. If not, take it back!
 

bertietheblue

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I don't remember the last time I used formal language in speech. Even with my boss, I'm pretty informal but then I've known him 9 years.
 

TheParser

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Good afternoon,
I came across this book(A Year In the Life of an ESL by Edward J. Francis).
Everybody says it's a must-have book.
Is it really important to study this book? Or should i avoid informal language?
Should I avoid formal English?

I am studying English for my job, I am collecting marketing information over the web. I am not going to fly to the U.S.A. I try to study for IELTS. English is very rich language. Should I prefer only neutral words, phrases,idioms first? Is it possible? Sure, I don't want speak like a book or William Shakespeare, but where's the border?


For example: I came across "check this out!". I think it's a useful phrase, but many dictionaries avoid it and if not so , it reads "very informal".

Thanks for Your advice,

Jiri

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good morning, Jiri.

(1) The other posters have already given you excellent advice.

(2) Do you mind if I comment on two words in your post?

(a) You mentioned a must-have (or "must-read") book.

(i) I think that is an example of informal English.

(ii) Yet many people would consider it "better" than the formal word:

indispensable.

(iii) Many times informal language does a better job in expressing one's

feelings.

(3) I just thought that you'd like to know that (at least in the United

States), people probably prefer to say "draw the line," instead of "border."

Surely, "Where does one draw the line?" is informal, but it is certainly

more expressive than the formal: to limit.

Have a nice day!

****

P. S. I agree with you: unless you wish to sound very young and "cool,"

I would avoid "Check it/her/him out" when conducting serious business!!!
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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Japan
There's no need to avoid colloquial or informal language. Slang requires some care- it's often associated with groups and when outsiders use it, it can sound artificial, like when parents use teenage slang. Also, the lines between what is informal or slang are not always clear- I agree with TheParser that check xxx out is probably bes left out of serious discussions, but that doesn't mean it can't be used in many other situations. If a phrase strikes you as useful, learn it and use it where appropriate.
 
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