Ideal English is the language of concentrated formality. Dun J. Li, introducing a textbook on Chinese civilization, uses ideal English when he states: “Of all ideologies that influenced the thinking and life of traditional China none was more important than Confucianism.” On the other hand, the irate factory worker complaining about his wages uses colloquial English when he writes, "If you wasn’t so darn pigheaded, you’d raise our pay." Both messages are clear, but the difference is in their levels of formality.
Because it is highly precise, ideal English is generally required in student writing. Colloquial, substandard, or slang words are unacceptable in ideal English. If you are unsure about a word’s meaning, we suggest that you look it up.