ELA 5: What Formal English Looks Like

Good morrow, good chaps. On this fine day, we shall teach you all about the ins and outs of delightfully formal English. Grab your top hats and a smart overcoat, it's time to take in knowledge.

5th GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:29

You know how it is. When texting a friend, your writing has a different tone than when [Girl texting a friend]

00:33

you send a note of thanks to your grandma for that… lovely...charming Christmas sweater she got you.

00:38

Informal writing sounds like conversation.

00:41

It’s almost like shorthand. Instead of saying “arrive” you might say [Girl parks car outside a house]

00:44

something casual like “show up.” Instead of “children” you might say “kids.”

00:48

“Find out” instead of “discover”… “go up” instead of “increase…

00:52

“I think” instead of “in my opinion”… “in a nutshell” instead of “to summarize”…

00:57

“plus” instead of “furthermore”… Or, “Yo, bird…I’m just grill-hoppin’

01:01

and takin’ in the sun feathers” instead of… [two birds on a wire as the sun sets]

01:04

…well, huh, we seriously have no idea what that might mean.

01:07

So yeah, the downside is that, most of the time, very few other people know what you're

01:11

talking about… …which can be a problem. [girl given an F grade for a writing test]

01:14

When you write something formal, such as an essay, you should switch to a formal voice,

01:18

so people can grasp what you're saying… …and so Old Miss Willers can keep her cane [Boy writing a paragraph and Miss Willers stood with a cane]

01:21

where it belongs. By using formal English, you can give your

01:24

speaker greater authority… …express complex and technical ideas more [Girl reading a technical journal of English book]

01:28

effectively… …and really take the time to flesh out what

01:31

you’re trying to say, using terms that any reader will understand.

01:35

Okay…almost any reader.

01:37

Okay, so…a few rules…

01:39

When writing formally, contractions are a big no-no. [Coop discussing formal english rules]

01:43

Say “do not” instead of don't and “cannot” instead of can't.

01:46

There’s no slang in formal writing, either…ya dig? [Boy hit in the face with a cane]

01:50

Sorry, Miss Willers. Yeah…formal writing is meant to last…

01:53

a long time. The thing about popular expressions is that

01:57

they come and go. Your grandma and grandpa probably said "groovy."

02:01

We’re not even kidding. They said things like "out of sight" and "far out." [Girl laughing at her grandparents]

02:05

It’s like a whole other language…

02:07

Of course, it goes without saying that formal English requires the use of standard punctuation

02:11

and grammar. You’ll have to dot your i’s, cross your [Girl inputting punctuation to a sentence]

02:14

t’s and please, please, please use the right type of “there.”

02:18

Whenever you read something written in formal English…

02:20

…it should be a signal to you that you’ll be reading about a serious subject.

02:24

That doesn’t mean it has to be about death and destruction… [A boy with an orange arm cast in a doctors room and death appears]

02:26

…but…it’s at least going to be about some important topic or another that calls

02:29

for clean, precise and professional language. Besides, if you don’t want everything to

02:33

be about death and destruction… …we suggest you don’t do anything else

02:36

to anger Miss Willers… [Miss Willers looking for a larger cane]