10 junio, 2024

Informal language: what it is, characteristics, functions, types, examples

We explain what informal language is, its characteristics, functions, types, and we give many examples.

What is informal language?

He informal language It is the one we use to communicate with those people with whom we have a close relationship, such as friends, family members or co-workers with whom we trust.

In this type of language, no importance is given to complying with grammatical or spelling rules. When someone uses informal language, he wants to communicate something clearly, without worrying about speaking correctly.

A example of informal language it is a mother who says to her son “I have told you a thousand times to tidy up the room”. On the contrary, in formal language one could say «I told her to order her room.»

At work, an employee could say in informal language “Marta, please help me with this”, or use formal language with “can you please help me with this report?”.

Informal language is used in the oral language when people talk, but also in the written language in messages sent by email, WhatsApp or other social networks.

Informal language features

In informal language the following characteristics can be recognized:

It is used in contexts of familiarity

Formal language is appropriate when there is a certain degree of trust between the speakers, such as friends, colleagues at work or school, or relatives. If there is no trust, the use of informal language can be seen as disrespectful or impolite.

Varies between countries and regions

Informal language is deeply rooted in the history and customs of each country and region. That is why it can vary significantly even between countries that speak the same language, such as Mexico, Spain, Argentina.

Some grammatical errors are allowed

In informal language, what is essential is expressiveness: what the speaker feels, thinks, or what happened to him. That is why a certain degree of grammatical incorrectness is tolerable without affecting communication.

Use profanity and double meaning expressions

If there is a sufficient degree of trust between the speakers, profanity, expressions with double meanings can be used, and even mild insults can be friendly.

Their vocabulary is small and repetitive

In informal language, speakers do not care much about calling objects by their proper name. The common thing is that fillers are used constantly such as «thing», «I mean», «right?», «well», «this…», among others.

Use of diminutives

Although diminutives are not per se incorrect, in informal language they abound. It is common for both proper and common names to be applied: «Rodriguín, minute, little surprise, Ricardito, Alicita, little meal.»

Informal language functions

This type of language is used to fulfill two functions:

Ensure effective communication

In many cases, if what we want is for our interlocutor to understand the message we want to convey, correct grammar and precise vocabulary are not necessarily of great help. It is usually best to say things in a simple way, accompanying the words with body language and gestures.

expression of emotions

Informal language allows the free expression of the speaker’s emotions, through interjections, profanity and onomatopoeia, without being interested in making the language beautiful. This expressiveness is reinforced by body language, which has an important role in informal communication.

On the contrary, the literary language is concerned with the aesthetic aspect of the expression, as occurs in poetry, novel or theater.

types of informal language

Everyday language

It is the informal language that ordinary people use in everyday life to talk doing activities of daily living with family, friends, co-workers or strangers with whom you have to interact.


They are informal language words that are only used in one country or region and that, in some cases, become a feature of linguistic identity. Some of them have already been incorporated into the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy and are part of the Spanish language, while others remain outside.

Examples of regionalisms are Che and kid in Argentina; cool In Venezuela; or the buddy and girl in Mexico, as well as Spanishisms hostito, cool, freak out.

Slang for different age groups

Depending on the age group and the country, there may be different vocabularies and informal expressions.

For example, each generation of adolescents creates new words with which they identify and with which they express the expectations and fears of that stage of life. They are jargons that fall into disuse as soon as their speakers exceed adolescence.

Slang from different professional or criminal groups

Each professional group may use a different informal language, with unique vocabulary and expressions. For example, firefighters and police officers use expressions that other people may not understand.

Another example is drug trafficking, which is not only a terrible scourge for society, but also a subculture with poems, songs and a particular informal language.

Differences between informal language and formal language

The same idea can be transmitted through formal or informal language. The use of one or the other will depend on the context in which the interlocutor is.

Next, some examples will be listed in which the same idea will be expressed in both types of language:

formal language

I’ll talk to you about the details of the assignment.
How are you?
It may be necessary to leave soon.
This is very easy.

informal language

I’ll talk to you about homework.
How is everything?
Maybe I have to go soon.
This is soooo easy.

Examples of informal language

– Wait here for a moment, I can’t wait to go to the bathroom.

– The kid made me laugh all afternoon, I liked him very much.

– If you go to the kitchen, bring me a fork, please.

– Tonight we are going to the cinema, are you coming?

– What are you saying, Rodrigo? How’s life treating you?

– You don’t know what happened to me today. Sit there and I’ll tell you.

– Be careful with the knife, you can cut yourself.

– Uffff… how hot it is, I could die.

– We better get out of one before the guard passes by.

– Oh, what a mess I just got myself into.

– Come down for a minute, I have a surprise for you.

– The teacher does not come, we have free time.

– José, long time no see! How is everyone there?

– Could you lend me your charger?

– Are you listening to her? I think she has no idea where she is standing.

– For lunch I have roast chicken with potatoes.

– Pass me the bottle of wine, champion.

– Juan, bring the basket of chestnuts to your grandfather.

– Oh, but how windy it is tonight. He closes the windows, dear.

– How expensive everything is! The broccoli, through the roof.

– What are you going to do this weekend? I’ll stay stuck on TV.

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