Do you write like a robot?
Informal writing can help. Put your textbooks aside, because here you can learn how to write like a native English speaker. Whether it's a letter to a friend, an invitation to a party, a Facebook update or a short email, these tips will definitely make your writing more informal!
Use Informal Linking Words and Phrases
An email to a friend is no place for those fancy linking words and phrases like: ‘however', ‘in addition' and ‘therefore.' Instead, try using: ‘anyway', ‘so' and ‘by the way.' If you're looking for more ideas, just Google (in English) "list of informal linking words" and see what you find.
Drop the Subject Pronoun 'I'
Instead of saying something like, "I can't believe it" in opening and closing sentences, you could drop the subject pronoun 'I' and say, "Can't believe it!"
Include an Idiom
Now, when I say add an idiom or two, that's exactly what I mean. Do not go overboard and throw in 10. With idioms, less is often more. You'll sound like a robot gone crazy if you use too many.
"We all went to Luiza’s place for her birthday and I had a blast!" (to have a blast- to have a really fun time)
If you're looking for an excellent resource for English idioms and expression, check out these two go-to books.
Begin with a Simple 'Hi', 'Hey' or 'Hiya'
Informal writing in letters and emails usually start with a greeting phrase. When writing neutral letters or even formal letters to people we don't know, we start with "Dear (Name)" or "Dear (Last Name)". For example: "Dear Ms. Palmer," however, when we write a friend we can begin with, "Hi Nessa," –Don't forget the comma and remember to skip a line before starting the text in the email or letter.
On a similar note, end your letter with a short greeting such as "Take care," or "Love," followed by your name placed below. Do not use the more formal sign-offs such as "Yours sincerely," or "Yours faithfully,".
Add Exclamation Marks!
It's truly that simple. To show that something is extra important, exciting or from the heart, just end your sentence with an exclamation mark! On the other hand, make sure you avoid using them in any formal writing, even to express anger or surprise.
Use Shorter Sentences
Another way to make your writing both informal and natural is by keeping ideas clear and sentences short. You can even have basic lines with two or three words, like "Miss you tons" or "I just got your letter."
Use 'Have Got' Instead of 'Have'
You've probably heard this phrase many times before, so why not use it in your own speaking and informal writing. The form "have/has + got" is another way to say "have". Which means you can use it to express obligations and responsibilities, and also to talk about the things you own. As in, "I've got two brothers." (possession) or "I've got to leave at 2 p.m. today because of a dentist appointment." (obligation).
If you pay attention, you'll hear this verb phrase all over the place. When used in spoken English it may sound like "I got two brothers" and "I gotta leave at 2 p.m. today." Be sure to start incorporating this awesome verb in your vocabulary!
Using expressions is another easy and fun way to make our English less formal. 'Hello' is so boring. Why not say, "What's up?", "What's shaking?", "How's it going?" or even a simple "Hey" along with a warm smile? Next time your friend does something worth congratulating her for, try saying "Way to go!" (way to go- good job)
For an amazing workbook on everyday vocabulary, check out my favorite "Ya Gotta Know It!" It's a fantastic resource and comes with a ton of practice and an answer key.
Use Phrasal Verbs
We can't say enough about the importance of phrasal verbs. They're powerful multipurpose words that live in every area of English communication, from work to love to parenting to learning, and everything in between. So, instead of using a verb like 'depart', a more common verb would be "take off" or "head off." Instead of saying, "I met an old friend at the market," you could say, "I ran into an old friend."
There are tens of thousands of these awesome two and three word phrasal verbs, and we know they're going to spice up your life! If you are on mobile, here is a free app you can get to help you on your phrasal verb journey. Phrasal Verbs Machine, by Cambridge University
Also, if you haven't downloaded our free phrasal verb sheet yet, click on the link on the right hand side and go get it! -->
Okay, now I'm going to ask you to pay extra attention to this tip. One of the most effective ways to turn your sentences into more natural versions is to use contractions whenever it's grammatically possible. I can tell right away if someone is more conversational (writing the way they talk) by checking if they're using contractions. Just make sure you're only contracting auxiliary verbs. (What's an auxiliary verb? Check out our list called 12 English Grammar Terms You Need To Know). Take a look at these two sentences and see which contraction is correct and which one isn't.
Example: "I've two brothers." (Wrong)
Example: "I've been to NYC a few times." (Correct)
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below. I you have a question send me a voicemail on the podcast page.