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Suggesting Solutions

Aim: This slideshow page gives you practice in identifying formal and informal language in suggestions in academic situations.

To make a sentence more formal you can:

  • Use 'There' as a subject; e.g. 'There is a serious risk of...'
  • Use 'It' as a subject; e.g. 'It is impossible to...'
  • Use formal phrases; e.g. "as a matter of urgency" instead of "quickly"
  • Use accurate descriptions; e.g. "Many students do not read instructions."

To make a sentence informal you can:

  • Use abbreviations; e.g. "Let's" instead of "Let us"
  • Use personal pronouns such as "I", "You" and "We".
  • Use phrasal verbs
  • Use rhetorical questions (questions that you answer yourself)
  • Use exaggerated descriptions; e.g. "Students never read instructions"
  • Use inexact expressions; e.g. "far more" and "quite easily"

The sentences and paragraphs below contains expressions used to make suggestions. Some are informal in style (and thus more appropriate for oral communication), while others are more formal in style (and thus more appropriate for use in academic writing). Choose whether the sentence is formal or informal .

:

1. There are a number of advantages to using Cantonese as the medium of instruction in all schools. Probably the most obvious of these is that …

This sentence is formal / informal.

2. I think that English should be the medium of instruction at the tertiary level and there are important - equally important - reasons for this …

This sentence is formal / informal.

3. It is a fact that most students go to university directly from school. However, many students would benefit by taking a break to travel or work ...

This sentence is formal / informal.

4. The first priority is that universities should be open to anyone who wants to attend them irrespective of exam results. The second priority is to ensure that standards are maintained.

This sentence is formal / informal.

5. Let’s introduce an internship in the second year of the programme... I admit this is not a top priority but it would make the programme far more practical…

This sentence is formal / informal.

6. One recommendation presented here is that, as a matter of urgency, the university consider including more humanities subjects in the curricula.

This sentence is formal / informal.

7. Why don’t we think about abolishing exams? They cause students so many problems and could be replaced quite easily by continuous assessment of course work.

This sentence is formal / informal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Sentence 1 is formal. This is because paragraphs in formal writing sometimes start with 'There are a number of..' to introduce a paragraph or number of paragraphs that describe a list of things, such as 'advantages to using Cantonese as a medium of instruction'. Secondly, the use of 'probably' shows that the writer is using tentativity (showing that you are not certain), which is common in academic writing.
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  2. Sentence 2 is informal. This is because of the use of the pronoun ' I ', which is not usually used in academic writing, and the elaboration '- equally important -' which shows that a thought has been inserted into a description of an idea.
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  3. Sentence 3 is formal. This is because of the word 'many', which gives an accurate and unexaggerated description of the number of students.
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  4. Paragraph 4 is formal. This is because it carefully describes the organisation, using expressions such as 'The first priority...' and 'The second priority....' Informal language is generally less overtly organised.
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  5. Sentence 5 is informal. This is because of the abbreviated and informal word "Let's", the personal pronoun "I", and the inexact expression "far more".
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  6. Sentence 6 is formal. This is because it uses formal vocabulary; e.g. "as a matter of urgency" instead of "quickly".
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  7. Sentence 7 is informal. This is because of the abbreviation "don't", the rhetorical question (a question that you answer yourself), and the inexact expression "so many problems".
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Last updated on: Friday, March 23, 2012