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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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4 Using formal vocabulary

This section gives you the opportunity to practise using some of the features of academic style through a few exercises.

As you have seen, everyday expressions such as idioms, informal words and long wordy phrases are not normally used in formal academic texts. You will practise finding formal equivalents of these expressions in the next activity.

Activity 8

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Read the sentences below and explain why it would be better to avoid using the italicised words and phrases in an assignment. Then, reduce their informality by replacing them with one of the formal equivalents listed below.

  • negative
  • A profitable business
  • A considerable amount
  • It is recommended
  • In addition
  • can be passed
  • Porter and Jones (2013) found that
  • invest in
  • It is widely accepted that
  • throughout
  • This example shows that

1. A lot of time was wasted.

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Answer

1. Informal word – A considerable amount of time was wasted.

2. Smoking can have bad health effects.

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2. Informal word – Smoking can have negative health effects.

3. The business has shops all over the place in the UK.

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3. Idiom – The business has shops throughout in the UK.

4. I believe the government should support small businesses.

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4. Subjective expression – It is recommended the government should support small businesses.

5. People need to come up with some money to buy solar panels.

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5. Wordy and informal – People need to invest in solar panels.

6. Some researchers said that antimalarial tablets were effective.

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Answer

6. Imprecise –Porter and Jones (2013) found that that antimalarial tablets were effective.

7. If we look at this example we can see that not all babies develop at the same rate.

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7. Wordy and informal – This example shows that not all babies develop at the same rate.

8. Another thing is that not all babies develop at the same rate.

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8. Informal and imprecise – In addition not all babies develop at the same rate.

A business that makes a lot of profit is considered successful.

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9. Wordy and informal – A profitable business is considered successful.

10. The term heritage is used to refer to property or practices that you can pass from one generation to the next.

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10. Use of ‘you’ is informal – The term heritage is used to refer to property or practices that can be passed from one generation to the next.

11. As we all know, scientific knowledge is tested through experiments and observations.

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11. Informal – It is widely accepted that, scientific knowledge is tested through experiments and observations.