Fixed phrases in English are very important, especially in writing but they are often formal or semi formal and can’t be used in all writing tasks. Do not confuse fixed phrases with phrasal verbs, many websites state that they are the same – they are not. Phrasal verbs are usually informal and are totally different to a fixed phrase.
Examples of fixed phrases include:
– look forward to hearing from
– in summary/conclusion
– in my opinion
– to whom it may concern etc
But be careful… Consider the following sentences…
Fixed phrase – It is the aim of this report…
1. Typical student usage
It is the aim of this report to see problems with computers in our school for students.
This sentence has a small error (incorrect verb – see) and the rest of the sentence after the fixed phrase is too informal (personal pronoun – our). In other words the register is not consistent.
2. Correct usage
It is the aim of this report to examine current IT issues, and challenges, at school.
The register is now consistent, semi formal. Also, look at how simple it is. There are only 2 prepositions, and 1 conjunction. It is redundant to put
for students – who else goes to school?
The student’s example is spoken, informal and unsuitable because the fixed phrase is semi formal but the remainder of the sentence is not..
Look at this sentence, a typical informal example from a student…
We will look at problems teachers experience.
Let’s make it formal…
1. Make passive.
Problems experienced by teachers will be looked at by us.
2 Make impersonal.
Problems experienced by teachers will be looked at.
3. Change vocabulary.
Issues, experienced by teaching staff, will be examined.
Now do that with every sentence in your formal report, essay, article or proposal.