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Whether you’re preparing for your IELTS test or another English language exam, it’s very common to be asked to write an informal letter as part of your assessment. Although it’s questionable whether our students ever send paper letters in an envelope anymore (because who doesn’t love WhatsApp?), knowing how to write an informal letter correctly is still a basic requirement for passing your English test as a non-native speaker.
In this post, we’ll have a look at the layout, style and structure of an informal letter written in British English. On top of that, we will provide an example which you can use to inspire your own version. Good luck!
Although the address of the person you’re writing to is usually mentioned on the envelope, it is polite (and handy!) to put your own address in your letter as well, in case your friend wants to get back to you. Your personal address should appear in the top right-hand corner of the page.
Always note down your address in the following order:
House number and street name
Town or city
Country (if applicable)
It’s common practice in the UK to incorporate the day on which you’re writing in your letter as well. This date should be included just below your own address, on the right-hand side of your paper.
Remember that the correct way to note down dates in British English is:
Day Month, Year
19 January, 2018
Don’t forget to start the month with a capital letter!
When writing an informal letter, you will most likely start with ‘Dear [addressee’s first name]’. However, if you’re writing, for example, an informal letter to a business contact or an elderly relative, you may want to refer to them as ‘Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms [last name]’.
The abbreviation ‘Mrs’ is used to refer to a married woman, ‘Miss’ is used to refer to a single woman and ‘Ms’ can be used if you’re not sure of the recipient’s marital status. For men, ‘Mr’ is always the appropriate abbreviation.
This is the main part of your letter. If you’re writing an informal letter to a friend, partner or family member, make sure you use personal and friendly language.
Start off by showing an interest in how the addressee is doing, or refer to an event/happening they have mentioned before. Then state the reason for your writing.
Second Paragraph Onwards
From your second paragraph onwards, you can elaborate upon the reason for your writing. Even if your tone is casual, it’s still important to put the appropriate care into your sentence structure, grammar and spelling.
In your final paragraphs, make some concluding remarks. You may want to ask some final questions, mention that you look forward to receiving a reply or send your regards to the recipient’s family and friends.
To conclude your letter, you will want to use a closing sentence. Common closing sentences in British English include:
I can’t wait to hear back from you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
See you soon!
Send my love to…
Finally, at the very end of your letter, you should sign off with a greeting and your name. When writing in the informal style, using one of the following signatures will certainly ensure you pass your test:
All the best,
Lots of love,
To help you pass your writing test, we’ll now provide you with a short example of an informal letter in British English. Good luck with your exam, and if this article has been of use to you, feel free to send us a thank you letter!
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You must be familiar with the format of an informal letter: salutation Start with a warm, friendly opening. Ditch the . Click here to go back to the English menu.
Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, everyone has to write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters, letters requesting changes or making suggestions — the list goes on and on. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, social and handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters.
Quite apart from curriculum requirements, being asked to write letters is a task that will appeal to children. The sheer fun of sending and receiving letters appeals to every child. There is something special about putting letters into the post box and then having letters delivered by the postman… the brightly colored stamps, seeing your name on the envelope and knowing that inside is a long awaited letter from a friend or member of the family. It shows someone cares and has taken the time to sit down and think about you.
Handwritten letters have a charm of their own. You can take time to think about what you want to say. You can keep letters to read again and again. You can admire the handwriting; share dreams and thoughts. Responding by letter is very different to the immediacy of a text message or an email.
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Use the above themes to encourage the children to discuss letter-writing. Ask the children to put their hands up if they have ever received a personal letter. Ask for one or more volunteers to talk about how they felt to receive the letter. Here are some initial questions that may help:
And some questions for whole class or group discussions:
Ask the class to interview each other to find out each individual's experiences of writing and sending letters. This can be recorded in a chart.
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Collect a supply of different types of letters — both formal and informal. Ask the children to sort them out into two groups. Which were written to friends? Which are formal letters from businesses? Which features or characteristics distinguish formal from informal?
Having done that ask the children to look for differences between the two groups. This allows a discussion to take place about the different types of letter. Draw up a chart for each group covering:
This will allow the children to find out for themselves the differences between formal and informal letters.
This could be followed by a discussion of the type of letters the children or their families write. How many occasions can they think of which would deserve a letter to be written? For example:
In each case the children should decide what type of letter would be most appropriate in each case — formal or informal? Draw up a chart for each group.
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These are sometimes known as business letters. They are written in a strictly formal style. Such letters are always written on an A4 (8" x 11") sheet of paper. They can be folded three times so that the address to which the letter is being sent can appear in the window of a business envelope. The layout is always the same.
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These are letters to friends and relations, or people you know well. Structure:
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Suitable for school, children ages 7-9
These are formal letters and messages need to be precise and detailed, covering all the required information. Two types of letters can be undertaken — a letter requesting information; and a reply providing it.
Out in the Milky Way, there is an alien curious about Earth. He writes a letter asking for information about liquids and gases. These do not exist on his planet and he finds it hard to understand what they are.
Write a letter explaining what liquids and gases are. How do they work? What examples could be included? What would be confusing about them? This could link to your science curriculum and could act as a revision exercise giving an opportunity for a discussion about gases and liquids.
The following day, give the children a thank you letter from the alien!
You could link up with another class in the school. One class could write letters of inquiry. These would be delivered to the second class for answering.
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Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
Thank you letters are very important and can be used in lots of ways: thanking organisations for helping, thanking people for helping you, thanking someone for a lovely time. They make a good follow up exercise after receiving presents or going on a visit.
Your class has just been out on a school visit to a farm. Write a thank you letter to the farmer. You will need to say thank you and how much you enjoyed the visit. Give some examples of what you enjoyed best about the day? Was it feeding the lambs? Pond dipping? Seeing the young animals?
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Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
Everyone likes receiving invitations. Receiving a hand written letter asking you to a party or a special event makes you feel very special.
Discuss what type of event might create a need to write letters of invitation. There are plenty of examples — birthday parties, Christmas parties, a visit to a beach with friends; going out to a farm or to the cinema, a wedding or when a new baby is christened; or simply inviting a friend to stay overnight at your house.
Choose a special event and write a letter inviting a friend. What do you need to include in the letter so that they have all the necessary information? You need to be clear on the date and the time, as well as the location. Your friend would be very upset if he or she went to the wrong place. Does he or she need to bring anything with them? Does he or she need to be collected at a set time? Will outdoor clothing be needed if the weather is bad? How will your friend reach the location of the event? Should a parent bring them or will you provide transport?
Remember to ask them to reply saying yes or no. Give a date by which you must have their reply. This is important if food and drink are being provided, or if you need to know exactly how many people are coming.
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Suitable for school or home, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
When might a letter of complaint be sent? It might be when someone has done something wrong. Sometimes people write letters to organisations or the newspapers to complain about litter or poor service.
Just imagine what Mr. Bear must have been thinking at the end of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A naughty girl had broken into his home, eaten his porridge; broken a chair and then gone to sleep on his child's bed. Then she had run away without even saying sorry when the bears came back.
Write a letter of complaint from Mr. Bear to the parents of Goldilocks. What would he say? He would need to get his complaint across very strongly. There would be a list of Goldilocks' misdeeds. He would ask for an apology. Would he ask for payment for the broken chair? Would he ask for action to be taken against Goldilocks? Discuss the various possibilities with the children. What might he ask? Would it be a formal or informal letter?
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Suitable for school, children ages 5-7 and 7-9
Every year children write letters to Santa Claus, asking for special toys at Christmas time. But how many children think about Santa Claus himself? What is his life like? What are the problems of living amid all that snow and ice?
This is an exercise that could involve two classes within a school. Both classes should prepare for the task by listening to some unusual letters. J R Tolkein wrote a lovely book entitled Letters from Father Christmas. Every December a letter would appear telling wonderful tales of life at the North Pole — how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Santa Claus's house.
Children in the younger class should write letters to Santa. They should ask about life at the North Pole. What do they think it is like? What sort of characters live there? How does Santa Claus occupy his time for the rest of the year? Consider how they would feel living in a land of snow and ice all year round? Would they want a holiday somewhere warmer?
Once the letters are written, gather them up and take them to an older group of children. Give each child a letter and ask them to write a reply. This would give them the opportunity to use their imagination and create imaginative responses, possibly little stories about life at the North Pole. They could also add in their own ideas. But care should be taken to make sure that all the questions in the original letters are answered.
Finally, take the answers back to the original class for reading and discussing.
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Suitable for school, children ages 7-9
These are letters that aim to pass on an opinion or a message. Examples can be easily obtained from local newspapers or from children's magazines such as DK Find Out or Aquila. They are written slightly differently to normal letters and are always addressed Dear Sir, or Dear — (name of magazine).
These are letters that are directed at a wide audience — anyone who happens to read it. The sender never gets a direct letter back through the post. Sometimes people are so interested in a letter, which has appeared in a magazine that they want to express their opinions. So they then write a letter to the magazine giving their comments.
So what might go into a letter to a newspaper or magazine? It might be a request — could you provide more stories about skate boarding, or nature? It might be a way of thanking people for providing help. Sometimes letters to local newspapers are used to thank people who helped find a lost dog or help after an accident; but who did not leave their names. By writing to the paper, the sender hopes that the message will reach the people concerned. Sometimes such letters are used to express opinions such as on climate change, treatment of animals, poor services, not enough buses, and human rights.
Letters of this kind need to be very precise. Arguments should be clearly made. Requests for action should be clearly indicated. From reading the letter, everyone should know exactly what the sender is asking.
A major issue is recycling and energy conservation. Everyone is trying to reduce the amount of energy we use. Look at all the reasons why energy conservation is so important. Then, write a letter to a paper or magazine saying why you believe we should avoid wasting energy. Give examples of how energy can be saved? What measures should we take in our homes or schools? Could anything more be done?
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The salutation is an important part of a letter. The choice of the right salutation depends on whether you know the person you are writing to and how formal your relationship is.
|To Whom It May Concern:||Use only when you do not know to whom you must address the letter, for example, when writing to an institution.|
|Dear Sir/Madam,||Use when writing to a position without having a named contact.|
|Dear Mr Smith,||Use when you have a named male contact.|
|Dear Ms Smith,||Use when you have a named female contact; do not use the old-fashioned Mrs.|
|Dear Dr Smith,||Use when writing to a named doctor.|
|Dear Prof Smith,||Use when writing to a named professor.|
|Dear Xu Li,||Type the whole name when you are unsure of the recipient’s gender.|
|Dear colleagues,||Use when writing to a group of people.|
|Dear Mary,||Use when writing to a named female.|
|Dear John,||Use when writing to a named male.|
These salutations should be used with people you are close to, as they might offend others.
|Hello guys,||Use when writing to a group of people you know very well.|
|Hi,||Use when writing to one or more people you know very well.|
There two ways in which business letters usually start: they make reference to a previous contact, for example, phone conversation, meeting, previous mail correspondence; or they are the first contact with the recipient.
I am (we are writing) regarding
In reply to your request …
Thank you for contacting us.
I am (we are) writing to
I am contacting you for the following reason.
I recently heard about … and would like to …
We would appreciate it if you would …
I would be grateful if you could …
Could you please send me …
Could you possibly tell us …
It would be helpful if you could send us …
We are pleased to announce that …
I am delighted to inform you that …
We regret to inform you that …
I’m afraid it would not be possible to …
Unfortunately we are unable to …
After careful consideration we have decided …
Please find enclosed (for letters)
Please find attached (for emails)
If you require more information, please let us know.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance.
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
We are looking forward to meeting you on 21 January/in Tromsø.
We would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience.
The closing salutation must match the opening salutation and the overall tone of the letter. Choose one of the following closing lines depending on the formality of the salutation.
|Use when you’ve started with Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern.|
|Sincerely,||Use when you’ve started with Dear + name.|
|not too formal but businesslike|
|Best wishes,||even less formal|
|Use with friends and colleagues you feel close to.|
Friendly Letter Format. HEADING:Includes the date. GREETING:The greeting usually starts with 'Dear' and is followed the person's name and then a comma.
Let's tackle how to write a letter in proper order, from top to bottom. These steps will mostly be directed toward a formal letter. The good news is that an informal letter is even easier. You can dial back or remove a few of the elements we're about to discuss when writing an informal letter.
To start, place your full address -- including your full name, street address, city, state, and zip code -- in the upper left-hand corner.
Skip a line and include the date.
Skip a line and place the recipient's full address. Here, you'll want to include the company name, the recipient's name and title, and mailing address.
Skip one more line to insert the greeting. This is called the salutation. In a formal letter, you can use a generic, "To whom it may concern:" or, "Dear Mr. Henry:" Formal letters tend to require a colon after the greeting, and informal letters take a comma.
Skip a line and begin the letter. In the body of your letter, separate your thoughts into paragraphs. You never want to draft one big block of text. For each new set of thoughts or ideas, begin a new paragraph.
Skip one of your final lines to include a complimentary close. The closing can be as simple as, "Sincerely," "Yours truly," or "Gratefully." This should end with a comma.
Skip three lines (where you'll insert your handwritten signature), and type your full name. You may also include your title on the next line.
If you're including any attachments with your letter, skip one more line and type "Enclosure." If there's more than one attachment, indicate how many there are in parentheses, as in "Enclosure (4)."
For a few more pointers, check out our article on Business Communication Letter Writing.
With this general formula in mind, let's review a few final tips before we take a look at a sample letter:
Know your audience. Only use technical terms or jargon if you are sure the reader will understand.
Be clear and to the point. Do not write two pages if one will do. Leave out unnecessary details. As you re-read your letter for accuracy, ask yourself if anything in there is unnecessary information.
Remain professional. Do not include any threats or slander in your letter, even if you are writing a complaint letter or a letter of resignation.
Keeping the above formula and tips in mind, here's a sample letter that illustrates each section. Below the sample text here, you will find a fully editable PDF that you can use as a template for drafting your own letter.
Branding Ambassadors, Inc.
4568 Highway One
Makeup, CA 12709
September 14, 2019
Mr. David Henry
Chief Marketing Officer
Consulate of Branding
328 Plainway Road
San Samon, CA 12808
Dear Mr. Henry:
This past weekend, I met one of your staff members, Cody Abercorn. He was manning your company's booth at the Cincinnati Trade Show. Since our booths were adjacent to one another, we had the opportunity to get to know each other rather well.
I must say, his professionalism and welcoming attitude toward your visitors was highly encouraging. Visitors were welcomed into your company's booth as if they were entering his home for a Friday evening dinner party. Every guest became a fast friend. Beyond that, they left the booth highly informed on your product line.
How often do we receive congratulatory letters, in a sea full of complaint letters? I wanted to make sure you began your week with a highly complimentary letter. I would say you spend a lot of time training your staff and Cody has certainly reaped those rewards.
As President and CEO of my own marketing firm, Branding Ambassadors, I wonder if you might consider teaming Cody up with us for a social media marketing campaign? Perhaps we can partner up on a short campaign where we sponsor one another in two to three posts.
With over 1.5 million followers, I believe we can join together and support each other's endeavors very effectively. What do you say? Will we take over the Internet and create a marketing movement that is mutually beneficial to our growing companies?
Thank you for your time!
President and CEO
View & Download PDF
Letters can be either informal or formal. An informal letter doesn't need to abide by all the above standards. That is, they don't require a formal address at the top and "To whom it may concern" in the greeting. Rather, you can get straight to a "Dear Mary" greeting.
Informal letters can also indulge in slang or colloquialisms. Typically, in business or professional reports, we steer clear of contractions. You might want to hold formal letters to the same standard. Informal letters, however, can loosen up a little with contractions and other forms of "loose" writing.
As for formal letters, cover letters will be an important part of your life. Informal or personal letters may come in the form of email today, but the premise remains the same.
To learn how to write a letter to accompany your resume, you'll need to use a standard business format.
Your one-page letter should consist of approximately three body paragraphs.
The first paragraph explains why you are writing, what position you want, and why you want it.
The second outlines why you are the best person for the job and summarizes your skills and experience.
The closing paragraph mentions your resume and asks for an interview. You need to be strong and upbeat in this paragraph so the reader will want to interview you. Thank the person for his time and include contact information.
For more, here's how to Write a Creative Cover Letter.
It is also important for everyone to know how to write a letter of a personal nature. Personal letters are not as formal as business letters and can be handwritten or typed.
Feel free to include the date in the upper left-hand corner of your letter.
Jump straight to an informal salutation, ending with a comma in lieu of a colon.
In the body, the first paragraph is usually an introduction and a summary of the reason you are writing.
The next paragraphs go into more detail.
The closing paragraph summarizes what you've had to say. You may want to thank the recipient or ask questions.
The closing comes after two skipped lines and can also be informal.
If you want to add a P.S. or P.P.S. to your personal letter, just skip a line and start the P.S. on the left hand side of the paper.
Written communication is an important skill to list on a resume. And, in order to include that, letter writing should be in your wheelhouse. For other important attributes, check out the Best skills to list on a resume. There, we'll explore soft skills, such as adaptability and creativity, and hard skills, such as computer programming and web design.
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As we discussed earlier there is no set format when writing an informal letter. letter to a friend, we end it with a closing that expresses the friendly nature of your .