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Should you use formal English with your patients? | OET

By 18 December 2018Language Tips

Can you change these formal verbs to informal?

Formal English vs. informal English

When it comes to healthcare professionals, you can generally speak to other healthcare professionals or patients. A question we get asked a lot is: whether you should use the same kinds of words for both audiences?

Speaking to colleagues

When speaking with colleagues or writing, it is best to use formal English, such as technical and formal verbs. You can do this because you more likely have the same knowledge as your audience.

Talking to patients

However, technical verbs may not be very familiar to your patients or seem overly formal. Instead, you need to adapt your speech to the audience on hand.

Patients will not have the same background knowledge in healthcare. To make sure they understand what you’re saying, you need to use the right language. One way to do this is by using phrasal verbs, which is a type of informal English.

Phrasal verbs can sometimes be tricky for English speakers, however, they are a super valuable tool to have at your disposal.

  1. Can you match the formal verb to its matching phrasal verb?
  2. Can you make a sentence using one of the phrasal verbs which are new to you?

extract                 pick up

anaesthetise       throw up

lower                    take out

contract               bring down

vomit                    put under

If you want to learn more about grammar and vocabulary, you can find a whole range of articles on the OET Blog. We also have a range of guides for each sub-test as well as the skills you will need to succeed.