Is there a difference between "write" and "write down" or it's just a matter of fashion / style?

At the university I see that some of the teachers say "write down" and some of them say "write" without "down"- both are in the same context in the classes (to write notes). Is one of them better or more correct or it's just a matter of style?

  • Did you check write down? Without specific context, you can't judge similarity. – user3169 Oct 2 '16 at 18:40

I think in your usage they basically mean the same thing.

write down

can mean to make a formal record of something

Let me write down your address and thine number.
Marriages are written down and recorded in a registry.



has less the meaning of recording and is also the actual action of writing

I'll write you a note.
Let's write them a letter.
Please write a Thank You card to everyone who gave you a birthday present.

For example,

Every week I wrote a letter to my parents and wrote down what happened.

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    How is write more informal? I would never say "Write down a note to your friend". That just sounds weird. – Catija Oct 2 '16 at 19:39
  • The act of "writing" can be for anything, "writing down" has a sense of "formally recording" and certainly to "write down something" one must "write" it. One would not say "write down a note to your friend" but one would say "write down what happened in a note to your friend" or "Write it down in a note to your friend". – Peter Oct 2 '16 at 19:47
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    That doesn't make it more formal... "He wrote the great American novel" is correct. "Wrote down" would not make sense in this case. There's no element of formality here at all. – Catija Oct 2 '16 at 20:43
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    The point is that write down takes a different argument from write. The object of write can be the content, the words, the message, or the document. The object of write down is the content or the words,. but not the document. That's why you can't say "Write down a note" or "Write down a letter". – Colin Fine Oct 2 '16 at 21:25
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    @ColinFine +1 Can't "write down a letter" as in a document as opposed to "Write down a letter... A, B, C" which is possible. – Peter Oct 3 '16 at 0:54

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