Learning to write a letter can be difficult for students as there are multiple types of letters.
Let's look at the differences between formal and informal letters.
The aim of this work is:
getting students to understand the differences between formal and informal letters;
helping students master differences in register required for writing in English;
preparing students for taking the exam.
Parts of a letter.
1. The letterhead.
At the top of an informal letter, you will put:
your address (sender's address), in the upper right-hand side of the paper;
the date, in the format month/ day/ year, e.g. September 1, 2015;
In the formal letters, you should write:
2. The salutation.
The most common salutations in informal letter is:
Dear Herry, ...(to a person you know personally);
My darling, …
In formal letter:
Dear Mr. Black, … (in formal letters, less formal);
MydearSir, MydearMadam (strict official)
Dear Sir, Dear Madam (less official)
Sir/ Sirs, ... to government officials; Gentlemen,... to a business firm.
The salutation is followed by a comma.
But most use the informal: «Hi!»
3. The Opening Sentence.
You should start with a sentence that awakes the interest of the reader in an informal letter. Start with a few comments or ask a few questions.
In formal letter, you are addressing a person with whom youa not familiar, that is why
grammar and spelling should be examine. The first paragraph of a formal letter will outline the purpose and the reason that the letter is being sent. The most appropriate phrases:
I am writing to you with reference to …
We are pleased to receive …
This is to inform you that I have received your letter …
I am most grateful to you for …
4.The body of the letter.
a) an informal letter:
In this part we will talk about the main subject of a letter. You can say:
To begin with ...
I need to tell you ...
Keep the tone of an informal letter on a conversational level. It is a good idea to ask questions that you would like the person to answer in the reply.
b) a formal letter:
5. Complimentary Close.
The complimentary close in the informal letter is always friendly
Best wishes, ...
With love from, …
Yours with love, …
Lots of kisses, …
Your loving son, ...
After the complimentary close you may add a short message (postscript). Here you can write down something that you may have forgotten in the body of the letter
The complimentary close in the formal letter with a salutation, such as:
- Yours truly/ Yours very truly, ...
After the complimentary close in the formal letter, leave two lines, then write your full name, for example:
In the informal letter you can write your first name, nickname or full name. I depends on the relationship.
Typical mistakes when writing an informal letter
inconsistency in the tenses used
the apostrophe is in the wrong place
the complimentary close is not punctuated, the name is written on the same line.
Typical mistakes when writing a formal letter
It is difficult to tell the difference between formal and informal vocabulary. You can memorize this list of words and use it in the writing.
Inform me Let me know
Contract Get in touch
Apologise Say sorry
Discover Find out
Many/ much A lot of
Handle Deal with
I'll give some examples of
1. an informal letter:
How are the things going on? Did something new happen in your life? Having received your letter, I wanted to answer it immediately. But I was working a lot during the last week.
In my country spring has already set. It is quite warm and really sunny all days long. Being at work I always imagine myself strolling down some parks. I wish you could join me! It would be funny! Some days ago my friend advised me to read a very interesting book. I did it and I would like you to know this author. Are you ready to read good literature?
Tell me more about your work and free time. What are your plans for this summer? Maybe we will be able to meet one day?
2. a formal letter:
Dear Ms. Blair,
This letter is to inform you that we have received your letter dated May 20 that was addressed to our Manager Mr. Brooks.
Mr. Brooks has been ill and is not expected to return to the office until about June 10. When he returns, I will bring your letter to his attention.
1 Ступин Л.П. Письма по-английски на все случаи жизни: Учебно-справочное пособие для изучающих английский язык / Худож. А. М. Гусаров.— СПб.: отд-ние изд-ва «Просвещение», 1997.