(OK, I'm going to close this out for what I think is a better proposal. I'm going to leave this here if anyone wants to discuss register)

In What is the difference between the "formality" and "formal" tags? the difference is said to be that is asking about the register of something, and is for questions that are requesting answers in a particular register.

I propose that we

The community wiki answer below is so that we can collaborate on the wording to use for the tag wikis if we decide to go forward with the new tags.

If you agree, up-vote this question. If you see potential issues please leave a comment explaining them or an answer with an alternate proposal. If you think that any part of this proposal should not be done (new tags or synonyms) please down-vote the question.

2 Answers 2


The term REGISTER is often misused by inexperienced teachers of English to denote what is more properly termed as formal or informal style. Register does not primarily concern formality or informality, rather it refers to the types of vocabulary, grammatical constructions and idioms used by particular groups of language users, for example, medics, lawyers, academics, musicians, people working in aviation and so on and so forth.

Because very many language teachers use this term with its more precise and technical meaning, it would be a very bad idea to use this terms in its vernacular sense as part of the tag system on ELL.

  • Yeah I figured that register wasn't particularly useful which is why I wanted to kick the hornets nest. In your opinion, should we have formal, formality, informal-english or is there a better way to organize it? Can we fix the register tag wiki?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 2:10
  • @ColleenV Hi, old bean. Erm, my honest answer is that I'm not sure. Perhaps make all of those a synonym of a new tag "formal-informal style"? But I don't really know ... :) Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 2:13
  • what about formal-english, informal-english, vulgar-english? I know the english part seems a bit redundant but I think making tags an answer to the question "What is the question about?" might be a good idea.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 14:00
  • @ColleenV I didn't get pinged ... Erm, sounds good to me. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:38

Proposed tag wikis

For questions about the register of a word or phrase. 'Register' is the degree of formality called for in a particular written or spoken context. Very broadly, we distinguish 'formal', 'informal' and 'vulgar' usage in both writing and speech, but finer distinctions may be needed.

For questions about formal text or speech or where the answer should be suitable for a formal context.

For questions about informal text or speech or where the answer should be suitable for a informal context.


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