Speaking or Writing?

You probably speak English every day.

You talk to cashiers at the supermarket. You talk to the doctor. You talk to your children’s teachers. You talk to your neighbors.

But when do you write?

(photo by Jaimie Newsome, 9/2014)

Do you write excuse notes for your children? Do you write checks? Do you fill out job applications and medical forms? Do you write reports at work?

Do you text in English with your friends? Do you send emails in English?

There are many occasions to write.

Sometimes, you can write in English just like you talk. In informal writing like texting or emailing, you can even abbreviate words. You can write “How R U” or “LOL” (laugh out loud) or “ASAP” (as soon as possible). You can write, “Wanna eat?” (Do you want to eat?).

In conversation, it is common to cut off the first word in a question.

For example, people say, “You hungry?” instead of “Are you hungry?” Or they say, “You see the game last night?” instead of “Did you see the game last night?” This is OK in casual conversation. But when you write, you should start the question correctly. You should also try to avoid abbreviations.

Compare these two notes to a teacher. Both give the same information. But which sounds better?

Excuse note #1 (photo by JLN, 9/2014)

Excuse note #1 (photo by JLN, 9/2014)

Excuse note #2 (photo by JLN 9/2014)

Excuse note #2 (photo by JLN 9/2014)

Excuse note #2 is more formal. “Got” sounds very informal.

Read the following sentences and decide if they are spoken or written. Are they written casually or formally?

  1. “You like to dance?”
  2. “U OK?”
  3. “Thank you very much for your warm hospitality.”
  4. “My kid got the flu.”
  5. “Where you from?”
  6. “Hahahaha LOL!”
  7. “Do you want to go to a restaurant?”
  8. “My child was sick.”
  9. “Today we served 87 clients.”

3 thoughts on “Speaking or Writing?

  1. I liked this article. Because l often come up them in my daily life. Good information and helpful for me. Thanks a lot.

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