Adapting to audiences

When we speak, it is not usually a problem for us to adapt to our audience, but it is more difficult in writing. Test your speaking skills using the Stylometer.

Stylometer scale from one to five, where one is informal and five is formal

Task 1

Question

Look at the examples below. Where would you place the following audiences on the Stylometer? Reorder them from most formal to least formal.

  • Give us your pen, Smithy.
  • I ain't got nothing for you.
  • Excuse me, but do you have a pen I could possibly borrow, please?
  • Can I have a pen please Sir?
  • Have you got a pencil Sean?

Most formal

  • Excuse me, but do you have a pen I could possibly borrow, please?
  • Can I have a pen please Sir?
  • Have you got a pencil Sean?
  • Give us your pen, Smithy.
  • I ain't got nothing for you.

Least formal

Task 2

Question

Think about your audience and purpose and the level of formality that the setting demands.

Look at the examples below. Where would you place the following audiences on the Stylometer? Reorder them from most formal to least formal.

  • A friend you walk to school with.
  • Your sister's boyfriend, who's in year 12.
  • An aunt you see every week.
  • Your doctor.
  • The headteacher at your school

Most formal

  • The headteacher at your school.
  • Your doctor.
  • An aunt you see every week.
  • Your sister's boyfriend, who's in year 12.
  • A friend you walk to school with.

Least formal

In some settings, you need to write quite formally, but in others you can make your writing less formal and even on occasion, chatty. In all types of writing except in informal dialogue, you should avoid using slang.

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