3.2 Identifying specific features of academic style
In the next activity you will look at the two lists of phrases in your table and identify specific features of academic and formal style.
Compare the formal and informal expressions listed in your table and any other differences you may have noticed while reading the two texts. Here are some of the things you may have noticed:
- use of contractions, such as ‘it’s’, ‘don’t’
- use of personal pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘we’, ‘they’
- expressions used to introduce information or ideas
- number of words used to describe an idea
- length and complexity of sentences
- overall structure of the text
- choice of words.
Write your observations in the box below before comparing them to mine.
Table 3 Formals texts and informal texts
|Formal texts||Informal texts|
Use of expanded forms
it is, cannot
Use of contractions
it’s, can’t, doesn’t
Texts are impersonal
I is rarely used. Formal texts more commonly use: it, he, she, they, the organisation
Informal texts tend to use:
I, we, you, ours
Writers strive to be objective and use research findings to support the points they make
Studies…support the position that…
it has been observed
…was found to be greater
Porter and Lawler (1964) observed
Writers make subjective statements. They state personal views and experiences
I feel that
Use of technical terms and very concise expressions
propensity to leave
Use of less concise everyday expressions
staff are satisfied
many of us want to quit
Contradicting the mainstream trend in literature, Zeist (1983) reported a greater degree of job satisfaction in more highly structured roles since role clarity reduced anxiety and served as a basis for reward seeking activities.
I think that there are more opportunities and staff should be more satisfied in big companies like ours.
Texts are structured in paragraphs
Texts move from general to specific
Texts follow an informal structure
There may several short paragraphs and a less logical progression
Formal vocabulary: one long word instead of two or more short words; words of Latin or Greek origin, e.g. oriented, adversely, autonomy, hierarchical, propensity
Formal verbs such as to arrive, to obtain
Informal vocabulary: short words do, make, get
Idiomatic expressions: at the end of the day
Use ofphrasal verbs such as come up, goes on
Phrasal verbs, which consist of a verb and a preposition or an adverb, are more commonly used in informal texts and informal conversation.