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Formal Writing: Do Not's. Do Not Use Contractions!. When writing a formal essay, you do not use contractions. A contraction is when you combine to words together, usually trying to make the word negative. . For example: Aren’t Don’t Can’t Would’ve Should’ve Could’ve.

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Do not use contractions
Do Not Use Contractions!

  • When writing a formal essay, you do not use contractions.

  • A contraction is when you combine to words together, usually trying to make the word negative.

  • For example:

  • Aren’t

  • Don’t

  • Can’t

  • Would’ve

  • Should’ve

  • Could’ve


Do not use first personal pronouns
Do Not Use First Personal Pronouns

  • When writing a formal essay, please refrain from using first or second person, or any personal pronouns.

  • It is much better to use the person’s name.

  • For example:

  • I, me, and myself

  • You

  • We

  • He

  • She

  • It

  • They

  • Them


Do not use past tense
Do Not Use Past Tense

  • When you are writing a formal essay, especially about literature, you do not use past tense verbiage.

  • For example:

  • Rebelled

  • Tried

  • Relied

  • Conformed

  • Used


Do not use vague words
Do Not Use Vague Words

  • When you are writing a formal essay, you need to be specific.

  • Do not use words that “stand in” or replace the actual word you are meaning to say.

  • For example:

  • Thing

  • It

  • They

  • Them

  • That

  • Their; There

  • They’re


Do not use the be verb often
Do Not Use the “Be” Verb Often

  • When writing a formal essay, you need to stay away from using the “be” verb too often.

  • It is much better to action verbs.

  • For example:

  • Is

  • Being

  • Been


Do not use the same word twice
Do Not Use the Same Word Twice

  • When you are writing a formal essay, it is important that you use a varied vocabulary to explain your point.

  • For Example:

  • If you use the word rebel, then you might want to also use the following words that express the same idea:

  • Protest

  • Defy

  • Agitate


Do not use more than one question
Do Not Use More than One Question

  • When writing a formal essay, questions are perfectly fine to use as attention grabbers; however, after the introduction, you should refrain from using them.


Do not use prepositions at the end of your sentence
Do Not Use Prepositions at the End of Your Sentence

  • When writing a formal essay, it is important that you do not use prepositions at the end of a sentence.

    For example:

    I would rather you discuss the person you are referring to.

    She answered the question I needed help with.