16 April 2011

Writing Letters

* Marking for the IELTS General Training Task 1 Writing
  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

1 Answering the question.

1) Write at least 150 words.
2) Fully do all the things that the question asks you. In this case it asks you to do 3 main things:
  • explain the situation
  • apologize for the inconvenience
  • say what you are going to do
3) Make your letter realistic so it would function in a real life situation.

2 The Opening Greeting of the Letter

A friendly letter will open with Dear followed by a name which should then be followed by a comma, eg:
Dear John,

A semi-formal letter will also open with Dear and then be followed by a name, (if you decide that in the situation you would know the name) or by Sir (if it's a man), Madam (if it's a woman) or Sir/Madam if you don't know, eg:
Dear Mr. Phillips,
Dear Mrs. Phillips,
Dear Sir,
Dear Madam,
Dear Sir/Madam,

3 The Opening Paragraph of the Letter

In a semi-formal letter, I feel it is important to state the reason for the letter straight away. You could use the following to help you:

I am writing to ask/ tell//inform you that...
I am writing to ask/inquire...
I am writing with regard to...
I am writing with reference to...
I am writing in connection with...
I am writing in response to...
In reply to your letter, I am writing to... (if the question indicates that you have had a letter)

If the letter is a less formal one to a friend then you should open the letter in a friendlier way. EG:

Dear John,
Hi there! It's been so long since I've heard from you. I hope you are doing well and I hope all your family are doing fine. I'm pretty good in spite of working hard. Anyway, the reason I'm writing is...

4 The Substance of the Letter

[Asking for Help]
  • I would like you to...
  • I would be grateful if you could...
  • I need to ask your advice about...
  • I'd like to ask for information about...
  • What I'm looking for is...

  • I'm writing to express my dissatisfaction/annoyance/ about...
  • I'm writing to express my anger at...
  • I am not happy about...
  • ... is not what I expected/was expecting.
  • I want to know what you are going to do about this situation.

  • I'm very grateful for...
  • I'd like to thank you very much for...
  • I very much appreciated...

  • I'm very sorry that/about...
  • Please forgive me for...
  • I'd like to apologize about...
  • Please accept my apologies

5 Ending your Letter

For a formal letter, you could use:

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanking you in advance for your help, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

For a more informal letter you could use:

If you need to know anything else, just get in touch with me as soon as you can. Thanks a lot for your help and I hope to hear from you soon.

Finally you'll need to sign off your letter. For a formal letter use:

Yours faithfully, OR
Yours sincerely,

For an informal letter, love is not always appropriate though English speakers use it a lot. Better would be to use:

Best wishes,


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