Casual speech

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Casual speech is a way of talking that you use with people that you are close to and trust. There are different words, phrases, and ways of speaking that you can use with your friends, your family members, and with people who are a similar age, social status, and personality to you.

Here are some easy examples of things that people do in casual conversation:

  • Use contractions: "That's not true," "What're you doing?" "Where'd he go?" "This's a good idea," etc.
  • Use slang: "Slang" is language that's only recently been created. It may be popular among some people, but not everyone has started to use it yet. Young people usually use a lot more slang than older people. Here are a few examples.
  • Use simplified grammar: An example of something that people do in casual conversation is drop "that" from clauses. They say "I thought you were leaving" instead of "I thought that you were leaving."

There are lots of other characteristics of casual conversaton as well. I try to point these out when I introduce phrases on this site.

When to be casual

All languages have casual and formal ways of speaking, but different cultures have different rules for when to use them. In some cultures, you speak more formally to people who are older than you. In other cultures, your wealth and job status are more important. Casual language is more common in some cultures and less common in others. These things also change over time within a culture.

In modern English, you decide how formally you speak with someone based on how close you are with them. "Closeness" means how well you know each other and how much of your personality you have shared with each other. Another important point is that casual speech is more common and more accepted in a lot of situations than formal speech.

Here are some guidelines for when to speak casually:

  • Use casual English with your family and friends. If you speak formally with these people, it may seem like you're angry with them or trying to push them away.
  • Speak casually with people that you meet socially. If someone is introduced to you by a friend, you should treat that person like a friend as well. Casual language sounds friendlier. So you should treat the new person as a friend.
  • Use casual English with people that you know pretty well, even if they are above you in position. When you start a new job, it's normal to be somewhat formal with your boss for the first few days, but you should gradually start to become more and more casual with each other as you get to know each other better.
  • Use it with people who are working for or serving you if you want to sound friendly. Speak casually to waiters, receptionists, employees, students, and other people who have to serve you, if you want these people to see you as friendly. If you want to seem strict or if you're angry, use more formal speech.
  • Write casually if you're writing for a large audience. School essays are meant only for a teacher to read, so they should be written formally. The same goes for academic papers, official reports at work, and so on. But blogs, tweets, advertisements, and other writing that's meant for a large audience is usually better when it's written casually.


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