Formal, Normal, Informal Speaking Game

Formal, Normal, Informal

Formal, Normal, Informal is an English speaking activity to learn expressions and vocabulary, and to practice communicating at different levels of formality.


1.) Take turns select challenging from the list.
2.) For each challenge, think of something you can say at each of the blank levels of formality.

Feel free to invent your own challenges!


Formal Speech:
1.) We can use elegant words and phrases, Here are some examples:

commence = start/begin
terminate = end/fire
endeavour = try
inquire = ask
inform = tell

if you wouldn’t mind = if it is okay with you
I apologize = I’m sorry
at your earliest convenience = when you can
express gratitude = say thank you
to be beneficial = to be good

2.) In very formal speech, we often avoid using contractions, like don’t, in place of do not, and can’t instead of cannot.
3.) We usually replace phrasal verbs with a synonym. For example, you can use enter rather than come in, and explode instead of blow up.
4.) Passive Voice is sometimes used in formal speech to create a sense of distance between the speaker and the action. Go ahead and use Passive Voice when it makes sense to do so, but don’t go overboard!
5.) It is considered polite to use the 2nd Conditional for questions, offers and requests.
Would you like…?
Could I offer you…?

Normal Speech:
1.) While 2nd Conditional is also used in every speech, is isn’t always necessary with offers.
Do you want some coffee?
Can I get you something to drink?
2.) Use contractions.

Informal Speech:
1.) Feel free to use slang, casual idioms, and soft swear words.
2.) We sometimes drop the subject, and even modals, at the beginning of sentences.
Formal: I will see you tomorrow.
Informal: See ya tomorrow!
3.) Not only do we contract words in informal speech, we so farther, and slur words together.
wanna = want to
I wanna beer. You?

gonna = going to
We’re gonna go out, and we’re gonna dance.

shoulda = shoud have
shouldna = should not have
I shouda ordered pizza. I shouldna ordered chicken.

coulda = could have
couldna = could not have
Ya cudda told me sooner. I couldna known.

woulda = would have
wouldna = would not have
He wudda come over, but he’s busy. He wouldna been about to hang out long anyway.

4.) When I was a kid, parents and teachers would say, “ain’t ain’t a word”. It is grammatically incorrect, and can make you sound uneducated. But many people use it, and it is gaining popularity. It is a very informal contraction for is not, are not, have not, has not that.

5.) In informal communication, people can play around with language, and even invent their own words. One of the ways we do this it by creating portmanteaus.

Rude Speech:
1.) In most social contexts, it is considered rude to use imperatives. Imperatives are orders and commands, and are made by starting with the base form of a verb. Some examples of imperatives are: Get up. Do it. Don’t do that. Don’t sit there.

Notice that the subject is removed. You can add the subject to be even more forceful.
Example: You get up now!
2.) Notice that in the last challenge, ‘what do you want’ is in the rude category. It is a perfectly normal, polite question, if you are asking a friend what they will select from a menu, for example. But it is very rude when it is used as a greeting, or in the sense of ‘how can I help you?’.