Hi, I was hoping for some feedback on whether “keen” is formal enough to use in TOEFL/IELTS essays. For instance - “I am very keen on my work.” We do not use this word at all here in the US, so I am not really sure what its correct usage is or whether it is even appropriate for an essay.
‘Keen’ in itself is okay to me:
Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm
keen believers in the monetary system
a keen desire to learn
It is also generally acceptable to combine it with ‘on’ (to be keen on something/someone) but I’m not sure I’d use it in this form in a formal situation such as an exam. I think I would avoid it in favour of a different phrase.
Well, we know what it means of course and sometimes it is used as an adjective in a facetious way because it sounds so 1950’s - “boy that swell new dress is peachy keen”. The only time I’ve ever heard “keen to” or “keen on” is in the Harry Potter books - we don’t use snogging either!
I wanted to edit this, because there is one instance where Americans use the word keen often. It is when we are talking about our senses - “keen eyesight”, “a keen sense of smell”. I don’t know why this particular usage remains popular.
that’s a pity! I love the word “keen”. I had no idea it is 50’s. Does the same go for “having a keen eye”, “he is keen to learn” and the “keening of the wind”? I’m so familiar with these expressions but I can’t remember where I picked them up.
I hate to be the “American representative”, since this may just be my personal observances. “Having a keen eye” sounds good, because it relates to the senses. “Keen to learn” and “keening in the wind” sound odd to me though. I agree that keen is one of those good Old English sounding words like wicked or knife. I looked up the origins and “keening” as a loud wail has a completely different origin than “keen” as in sharp - interesting. Looking at this dictionary, the first 6 definitions seem more natural to me than #7 and #8:thefreedictionary.com/keening