Would you replace "like" with some other word in formally writing "I like the fact that something can be helpful"?

For example, does "like" sound informal in the following formal writing:

I hope to study mathematics, because I like the fact that mathematics can help in virtually every professional field.


  • What kind of "formal" writing? A college entrance essay or a PhD thesis in a reviewed journal?
    – Jim
    Jan 13, 2014 at 5:21
  • @Tim I like the idea ... might sound a little better, because it's possible that not everyone will agree with your fact. Jan 13, 2014 at 8:20
  • You can write I am aware of the fact ...._You can also write _because it is a known fact...
    – user3909
    Jan 13, 2014 at 9:47
  • I would just remove "I like the fact that". It seems a bit clumsy to me and the reader can easily infer your fondness for the fact because you are claiming this is the reason you hope to study mathematics. Jan 16, 2014 at 10:06
  • You should take out "the fact" because it does not help with the context of this sentence. It has no purpose or meaning. Jan 24, 2017 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Original: I hope to study mathematics, because I like the fact that mathematics can help in virtually every professional field.

At a minimum, you need to remove your comma splice and drop "like":

Better: I hope to study mathematics because it can help in virtually every professional field.

In America (USA), it's stronger to state what you "want" than "hope". Be specific. IMO, "virtually every" has become cliche and gets confused with the now stronger meaning of "virtual" as in "virtual reality". Also, the phrase "it can help" is too anthropomorphic and sounds naive:

Best: I want to study mathematics because of its broad application across many fields that I'm interested in including computing, economics, human behavior, and game theory.

FYI - Many people want to study mathematics because of a love and passion for mathematics itself as an art, a science, and a way to explore the boundaries of self and transcendent knowledge. Just thought you might like to know that math has "more" use than just being helpful in professional fields. It's good enough to study on its own without using it anywhere!

  • +1 I like your rephrasing. But perhaps you mistyped its as it's and I am as I'm. Jan 24, 2014 at 11:17
  • Fixed the various "its-es". What's wrong with I'm? Jan 24, 2014 at 11:50
  • I don't think it's wrong per se. But because the OP mentioned the formal writing context, as far as I know, contractions should be avoided. In the end, it would be up to the OP's manual of style, I think. Jan 24, 2014 at 11:58
  • 2
    Thanks for all the points. I actually added "that" before "I'm" to make it more formal. But (for fun) I'm going to defend the contracted use of "I'm". I'm going with Grammar Girl's explanation, "use contractions in formal writing if it will sound stranger to avoid them than to use them". In this case, presumably a college submission letter or personal essay, the formality wouldn't be so high as to exclude a natural and unambiguous contraction. And hey, it's just my style. :) Jan 24, 2014 at 12:18
  • On the other hand, if OP's audience is likely to be another non-native English speaker (such as a college in India that requires an English cover letter), they would most likely prefer the more formal "I am". Jan 24, 2014 at 12:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .