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In a very formal style, think is sometimes followed by an object and an adjective or noun complement.

They thought her fascinating.
We thought him a fool.

(M. Swan, Practical English Usage, 588.4)

It says 'very formal,' but my old dictionary says the structure, without 'to be,' happens in speech.

How should I understand these? Does this 'formal' mean... I don't know if this is a reasonable word... form-oriented? I mean it's like form for form sake? What is the word for it?

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Such constructions are not used much in modern English. You will, of course, find them in period dramas, especially when the characters are upper-class or well-educated. So, yes, I would agree with Swan: both very formal and somewhat old-fashioned.

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A meaning of formal is "not casual" or "strictly following protocol or rules of etiquette/politeness" and that's what is meant here.

Formal does not mean "form-oriented" for any of the meanings of form - with one exception: etiquette can be considered a standard or "form" for behavior.

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