How to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1
Writing
How to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend? I'm guessing it may have been a long time (or perhaps never) because you use texts, email or social media instead. If you haven’t picked up a pen and paper for a while, now’s the time to practice because you may have to write a letter to a friend for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1.  You don’t want to do what some test takers do and use language that’s more formal in style (serious and official) when it should be more informal (relaxed and friendly), or use language that’s too informal and that should only be used in text messages or on social media. IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 The General Training Writing Task 1 exercise below taken from IELTS Trainer General Training is an example of one that asks you to write an informal letter. You know that the letter has to be more informal because it’s to a friend and about something positive. (If the Writing Task 1 asks you to apologise to a friend for something you’ve done, you could write in a more semi-formal style to make it sound slightly more serious). (Click to enlarge) It also tells you to start your letter with ‘Dear...,’, which is a signal that you need to write a letter that’s more informal in style! If the Writing task tells you to start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’, you need to write a letter that’s more formal in style. IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 example answer If you read the following answer you’ll see that the writer writes an informal letter, suggesting a place their friend could live, describing public transport in their city, and saying how their friend could meet new people. (Click to enlarge) As you’ll see below, the letter also contains a lot of informal language features that you could use if you have to write an informal letter. Informal language So, what language features are informal and which should you avoid in an informal letter? Informal language features include: informal openings, e.g. ‘Dear…, ‘ or ‘Hi…,’  informal closings, e.g. ‘Love…’, ‘All the best,’, ‘Take care,’, ‘Bye for now,’ or ‘See you soon,’ contractions, e.g. It’s… (instead of ‘It is…’) the use of more informal vocabulary, e.g. ‘job’ (rather than ‘position’), ‘help’ (rather than ‘assist’) and ‘pretty’ (rather than ‘reasonably’) exclamation marks, e.g. ‘Congratulations on your new job!’ the use of ‘should’ and ‘could’ to make suggestions (instead of a more formal way, e.g. ‘May I suggest...’) Language features you should avoid in an informal letter include: formal language features, e.g. formal vocabulary like ‘obtain’ (rather than ‘get’ or ‘buy’) language that’s too informal and that should only be used in texts or on social media, e.g. shortened words like ‘congrats’ (rather than ‘congratulations’)  Why not pick up a pen and paper and write a letter to an English-speaking friend you haven’t contacted for a while? As well as being good practice, I’m sure your friend will appreciate receiving it. Bye for now, Pete

Pete Jones

25 August, 2020

How to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

How to write an informal letter for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend? I'm guessing it may have been a long time (or perhaps never) because you use texts, email or social media instead.

If you haven’t picked up a pen and paper for a while, now’s the time to practice because you may have to write a letter to a friend for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1. 

You don’t want to do what some test takers do and use language that’s more formal in style (serious and official) when it should be more informal (relaxed and friendly), or use language that’s too informal and that should only be used in text messages or on social media.

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

The General Training Writing Task 1 exercise below taken from IELTS Trainer General Training is an example of one that asks you to write an informal letter.

You know that the letter has to be more informal because it’s to a friend and about something positive. (If the Writing Task 1 asks you to apologise to a friend for something you’ve done, you could write in a more semi-formal style to make it sound slightly more serious).

How-to-write-a-informal-letter-page95-ielts-trainer-2

(Click to enlarge)

It also tells you to start your letter with ‘Dear...,’, which is a signal that you need to write a letter that’s more informal in style! If the Writing task tells you to start your letter with ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’, you need to write a letter that’s more formal in style.

IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 example answer

If you read the following answer you’ll see that the writer writes an informal letter, suggesting a place their friend could live, describing public transport in their city, and saying how their friend could meet new people.

Example Answer for How to Write a Informal Letter

(Click to enlarge)

As you’ll see below, the letter also contains a lot of informal language features that you could use if you have to write an informal letter.

Informal language

So, what language features are informal and which should you avoid in an informal letter?

Informal language features include:

  • informal openings, e.g. ‘Dear…, ‘ or ‘Hi…,’ 
  • informal closings, e.g. ‘Love…’, ‘All the best,’, ‘Take care,’, ‘Bye for now,’ or ‘See you soon,’
  • contractions, e.g. It’s… (instead of ‘It is…’)
  • the use of more informal vocabulary, e.g. ‘job’ (rather than ‘position’), ‘help’ (rather than ‘assist’) and ‘pretty’ (rather than ‘reasonably’)
  • exclamation marks, e.g. ‘Congratulations on your new job!’
  • the use of ‘should’ and ‘could’ to make suggestions (instead of a more formal way, e.g. ‘May I suggest...’)

Language features you should avoid in an informal letter include:

  • formal language features, e.g. formal vocabulary like ‘obtain’ (rather than ‘get’ or ‘buy’)
  • language that’s too informal and that should only be used in texts or on social media, e.g. shortened words like ‘congrats’ (rather than ‘congratulations’) 

Why not pick up a pen and paper and write a letter to an English-speaking friend you haven’t contacted for a while? As well as being good practice, I’m sure your friend will appreciate receiving it.

Bye for now,

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
IELTS Trainer 2 General Training

IELTS Trainer 2 provides practice tests AND guidance. First, build your confidence by following the step-by-step guidance, tips and strategies in the training and exam practice exercises in the first two tests. Then apply what you’ve learned and develop your exam technique with the final four tests. This book contains six full practice tests with downloadable audio, audioscripts and answers with detailed explanations. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Skill bar

Stay up-to-date