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Writing an IELTS Letter

You will be given instructions and three points to include in your IELTS letter. It is essential that you include all 3 bullet
points.

Your first task is to identify your audience; by this, I mean the person or people you are writing to. This is really
important as it will help you decide on the formality of the language and style of the letter.

Semi-formal letters are sent to people that we do not know well. They are more polite than an informal letter and are
written in a neutral style, not too formal or too informal.

Informal style greetings and signing off


Begin with Dear + a first name

Example: Dear Sam,

IELTS Informal Letter Tips:

Do not write– Dear friend,

Give your friend a name. This also helps you to imagine that the situation is a real one and that you are writing to a real
person.

You can sign off with one of the following:

 Best wishes,
 Give my best wishes/ regards/love to your family,
 I hope to see you in …….
 See you soon,
 Take care of yourself,
 I wish you all the best,
 All the best,

Followed by:

 Mary ( your first name only)

Opening and Closing an informal letter

It’s important that you do not omit the opening and closing sentence or phrase, which indicates that the letter is
going to end.

In an informal letter you can start by showing an interest in how the friend is doing or refer to an event they have
mentioned before, or you can begin by mentioning something he or she told you in their previous letter to you.

IELTS Informal Letter Tip:

It is easier if you can imagine you received a letter from your friend and you are responding to it.
Example of an opening;

Dear Ann,

Thanks for your letter, it was so interesting to read/ hear about your new hobby/ job/ house and the photo you sent
is absolutely amazing.

This can be followed by the reason for the letter according to the General IELTS exam question.

Opening your letter suggestions:

o I just thought I’d write to let you know that I finally quit my job ……

o I’m writing to tell you about ……

o I thought you might be interested to know/ hear that ….

o I thought you would like to hear about …..

Closing your letter suggestions:

o I’m looking forward to hearing all about….

o Write back soon with your news.

o I can’t wait to hear all about ….

o Let me know if you need…./ want…../ are able to visit etc

Remember to use the active voice as it makes the letter sound more interesting.

Punctuation

In informal letter writing, you must use contracted forms. (e.g. I’d / it’s / won’t, etc)

Remember to use a capital letter in the names of:

o theatres, hotels, roads, streets and avenues

o countries, cities, languages and nationalities,

o days and months and the names of holidays, but not seasons (seasons are not proper nouns in English)

IELTS Informal Letter Tip:

Another way to create an informal style is to use an occasional exclamation mark (!) to show strong feelings or
surprise but do not use more than one in your 150-word letter.

Final Tip:

Remember to indent the paragraphs and always edit your writing carefully for spelling mistakes, which can lower
your band overall, while attempting the IELTS Informal Letter.
Greetings and signing off in IELTS Semi-Formal Letter
This depends on the overall formality of your IELTS Semi-Formal letter. You may decide to greet with:

o Dear Mr Jones, or Dear Tom,

Sign off with:

o Kind regards (and your name)

or

o Best wishes, (and your name)

Opening and Closing Statements in Semi Formal Letter

It is important that you do not omit the opening and closing statements.

How you open your IELTS Semi-Formal letter depends on the reason for the letter. It is best to open the letter with a
short explanation for the purpose of the letter and end it with a request for action that relates to it.

Opening Statement

For example, if you are writing to ask for some time off work then you can begin with the request directly:

Dear Mr Jones,

I am writing to request a few days of unpaid leave in March.

Try to paraphrase the exam question and do not just copy it or words from it.

Closing statements

I would be very grateful if you could allow me to take these four days off as it is very important to my parents that I
attend and I’d appreciate it if you could let me know by the end of the week.

There are certain points you must remember when writing a semi-formal letter with regards to:

o Paragraphs and structure

o Vocabulary (Lexical resource)

o Punctuation

I will now guide you through each of these sections individually with tips and some set phrases that you can learn and
adapt to suit the format of the letter that you are asked to write.

Paragraphs and Structure

You must organise your IELTS Semi-Formal letter into 4-5 paragraphs including the opening and closing statements.
Before you begin writing spend some time deciding how you will effectively structure the letter and read each bullet
point carefully.
Think about where to put each point, i.e. are 2 points connected? If they are, they could be linked together in the same
paragraph. Your structure should be:

Bullet point 1 and supporting details

Bullet point 2 and supporting details

Bullet point 3 and supporting details

Abbreviations

You may occasionally want to abbreviate but do not use ‘text language ‘ (BTW, FYI) in the exam, even in the informal
letter to a friend.

It’s okay to use these abbreviations though in your informal and semi-formal letter:

i.e. = I’m going to explain what I mean using different words.

e.g. = I am going to give an example.

Etc. = and other similar things

Punctuation

In semi-formal letter writing you can use contracted forms, e.g. it’s/ won’t, don’t etc ) but this depends on 2 things:

o Who you are writing to

o The overall formality of the letter.


IELTS Formal letter writing (General IELTS task 1) is usually for one of the
following reasons.
o To ask for advice/assistance/ compensation
o To complain about something
o To apply, or resign from, a given position
o To make a request
o To apologise
o To invite
o To thank or to express your appreciation
Formal style greeting and signing off
If you don’t know the person you are writing to or have never met them you should use a more formal greeting and sign
off with, Yours faithfully, followed by your surname.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I am writing to express my gratitude for ……

.
.
I look forward to ……..
Yours faithfully,

Mr. M. Thomas

2. Opening and Closing Statements.

It is important that you do not omit the opening and closing statements.

How you open your letter depends on the reason for the letter. It is best to open the letter with a short explanation for
the purpose of the letter and end it with a request for action that relates to it.

For example, if you are writing to complain then you can begin with these phrases.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

o I am writing to complain about …..

o I wish to complain about

o I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with ….

o I am writing with regards to …….

o I am writing in response to ….

Closing statements.

I would like to thank you in advance for…….

Thank you for giving your attention to this complaint/matter.


Tip

These phrases can be adapted to suit other types of formal letters too.

Paragraphs and Structure

You must organize your letter into 4-5 paragraphs including the opening and closing statements. Before you begin
writing spend some time deciding how you will effectively structure the letter and read each point carefully that you
must include.

Think about where to put each point, i.e. are 2 points connected? If they are they could be linked together in the same
paragraph.

Bullet point 1 and supporting details

Bullet point 2 and supporting details

Bullet point 3 and supporting details

Vocabulary

If you are aiming to get a high band the requirements for ‘Lexical Resource’ are that you use a wide range of vocabulary
to convey precise meanings and skillfully use uncommon lexical items

What this means is that you must avoid using simple words and repeating the same words in your letter.

You have to show off what you know in just 150 words, so make every word count!

When you are writing try to think of a more formal word for the one you have written. Words that we use when we
speak in everyday conversation are not the words that will get you a high band.

Some examples of everyday verbs and a more formal equivalent are:

o Need – Require

o Take part – Participate

o Get – Acquire

o Give – Administer

o Look for – Research

o Ask for – Appeal for

o Write – Compose

o Carry out – Conduct

6. Punctuation

In IELTS formal letter writing, you must not use contracted forms (e.g. it’s/ won’t etc) and use long forms e.g. It is … I
will not …. We do not…
Formal, semi-formal/ neutral, informal phrases and expressions:

Informal Neutral/ Semi-formal Formal

What do you need? Please let us know your requirements Please inform us of your requirements

Many thanks for .. Thank you for your letter Thank you for your letter dated 12th May

Thanks for your


letter

Sorry, I can’t make I am sorry but I will not be able to come to I am afraid I will be unable to attend the …./
it to the ….. …. Please accept my apologies for …… please accept my sincere apologies for …

(I’m) So sorry to I am sorry to say that I/we …….. We/I regret to inform you that ….
tell you that …

I promise to +verb. I/ we can assure you that ….. Please be assured that …..

I promise + that
clause

Could / would you I was wondering if you could / would……..? We would greatly appreciate your help/
……? assistance in this matter.

Don’t forget ….. We/ I would like to remind you that ….. We/ I would like to remind you that …..

But …. Also…. So…. However, In addition, Therefore, However, In addition, Therefore,

Can you …… Could you please ……? I would be grateful if you could…..
please…..?

I’m sorry for I am sorry for inconveniencing you Please accept our/ my apologies for…. (any
putting you out. inconvenience)

Remember to use a capital letter in the names of:

o theatres, hotels, roads, streets and avenues

o countries, cities, languages and nationalities,

o days and months and the names of holidays, but not seasons (seasons are not proper nouns in English)
Formal Letter:

1. You are not satisfied with the changing rooms in a sports centre that you visit. Write a letter to the manager:
– What the problem is
– How you feel about the problem
– What steps you want the manager to take

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the facilities provided by your sports center located at the city center. It
has been two years since I and my wife joined this center. We both attend the yoga classes in the morning and do
swimming in the evening.

I want to bring into your notice that the changing rooms in the pool section are not being maintained properly. Firstly,
the towels are soiled and even damp sometimes. Secondly, there is a foul smell in the rooms most of the time. It seems
as if the area is not cleaned thoroughly and no room freshener is used. We talked with the facilitator before writing to
you but the issue was ignored rather than being resolved. Such a response has disappointed us as it is a basic hygiene
issue which should have been taken care of immediately after the first complaint.

I would like you to ensure that clean towels are supplied after every swimming session and rooms are cleaned regularly.
If the problem of foul smell can also be tackled by installing ventilators, we would be grateful to you.

I look forward to receiving a prompt response.

2. You recently used a taxi and left some important documents there. Write a letter to the company and say:

– Describe what you left and where it happened.

– Why are these papers important?

– What would you like the manager to do about it?

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing in regards to a recent journey I made in a vehicle from your company on June 1st, 2018, more specifically,
from Rudrapur to Haldwani, starting around 4 pm and finishing 30 minutes later.

Immediately after entering the taxi that afternoon I was working on my presentation for a new job and I have strong
reason to believe I left these documents in the cab upon reaching the destination.

These papers are of enormous value to me as they contained my mark sheets and passport.

I would be terribly grateful if you could forward the contact details of the driver as I would like to contact him and
request to deliver my documents.

Your assistance in this matter is of dire importance.

Regards,
Informal Letter

1. You have won a holiday to Hawaii with one extra ticket. Write a letter to someone to invite them along with you.
In the letter:
– Explain what has happened and that you would like them to come
– Give details of when the trip will take place
– Inform the person of the things they will need for the trip
Dear Nicola,
You will never guess what has happened so I’ll just tell you; I’ve won a trip to Hawaii, and it’s for two people. I’ve
decided to take you.

I entered a stupid competition in some magazine and completely forgot about it, and today I received a phone call to let
me know that the holiday for two was mine. Of course, you were the first person to come to mind.

I simply won’t take no for an answer, so make sure that you have the 15th to the 25th of March 2018 free. Book it off
work now to make sure that it’s allowed, and send me your passport information so I can register our names on the
tickets.

I reckon we will need to go on a brief shopping trip when you get back from Brussels so that we are fully prepared for
the beaches and our quiet hillside cabin.

Email me as soon as you can!

Your mate,

2. A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on holiday. Write a letter to your friend.

In your letter:

– give contact details for when you are away


– give instructions on how to care for your pet
– describe other household duties
Dear Emma,
Thank you for agreeing to house-sit for me. It was a great relief when you agreed to take up the responsibilities. I would
like to thank you for that and inform some of the chores you should take care of.

If you need to contact me for any reason during my holiday in Thailand, please ring my mobile phone. I’ve written the
numbers on a sticky note which I’ve left on the fridge. I will stay at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok hotel and if I change
my hotel, I will inform you of that. Alternatively, you can message me on WhatsApp or Imo.

My cat needs to be fed twice daily so each morning and evening put a handful of cat food in his dish. You will find these
in the kitchen pantry. Also, please check throughout the day to make sure he has fresh water. You can give him a small
bowl of milk in the evening.

I would like you to water my plants, too. The indoor ones in the lounge only need water once every few days but the
plants on the balcony need to be watered daily unless there has been heavy rain. Finally, for security, please clear my
mailbox every day and keep the outside lights on at night.

I look forward to seeing you on my return.

Warm wishes,
Semi Formal Letter

1. You are working for a company. You need to take some time off and want to ask your manager about this. Write
a letter to your manager. In your letter

 Explain why you want to take time off


 Give details of the amount of time you need
 Suggest how your work could be covered while you are away.

Dear Mr Jones,
I am writing to request a few days of unpaid leave in March.

It is my parents’ wedding anniversary on 22nd March and they are planning to celebrate their special day with their
children and grandchildren in a cottage, which they have rented to accommodate all the family.

To participate in this special occasion I would need to be away from work for four days, from Tuesday 19th to Friday
22nd. My schedule for that week is relatively light apart from two meetings with clients. Anna would be able to attend
the meetings in my place, as she has dealt with both of these clients in the past. I have no other meetings or any other
urgent work that needs to be completed at that time.

I would be very grateful if you could allow me to take these four days off as it is very important to my parents that I
attend and I would appreciate it if you could let me know by the end of the week.

Kind regards,

Tom Watson

2. You are experiencing financial problems and want to ask your landlord if you can pay your rent late. Write a
letter to your landlord.
In your letter explain:
 Why you are writing to him
 Why you cannot pay the rent
 When you will pay the rent.

Dear Mr Strickland,
I am writing to you to request that you allow me to pay my rent late this month.

I’ve been a tenant with you for a number of years now, and, as you know, I have always paid my rent on time. However,
I am having a few financial problems at the moment. Last month, I was made redundant from my job because the
company I work for is closing down. Because I have not worked at the company for long, I have not received a
redundancy payment, therefore leaving me short of money this month.

I can assure you that I will be able to pay the rent on the 15th of next month. I have now found another job, and they
have kindly agreed to give me an advance on my wages, but they are unable to arrange this until next week.

I hope this will be acceptable to you, but please contact me if it is a problem.

Yours sincerely,

John Streetham.