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Mastering Informal Letter Writing for IELTS: Tips, Examples and Structure

Informal Letters

For creating informal letters, adopt a close-to-spoken-English style. These letters are suitable for friends, family members, or colleagues you communicate with. Feel free to use contractions, abbreviations, and a more relaxed tone, but ensure your writing remains coherent.

There are 4 main types of informal letters that are given in the exam. You’ll receive only 1 of them:

  • Letter of invitation: party, dinner, celebration
  • Letter of request: asking questions, asking for advice, asking for help
  • Letter of thanks or appreciation
  • Letter of suggestion: suggesting ideas, plans, solutions

Model answer

Task 1

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

In your letter:

  • give contact details for when you are away
  • give instructions about how to care for your pet
  • describe other household duties

Write at least 150 wors. You do NOT need to write any addresse. Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ....

Source: https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/prepare/free-ielts-practice-tests/writing/general-training/task-1.

An example of a strong informal letter presented by the British Council:

Dear Carolyn,

Thank you for agreeing to house-sit for me. If you need to contact me during my holiday, I’ll be staying at the Imperial Hotel in Bundaberg. If it’s urgent, however, please ring my mobile phone, which I’ll keep with me at all times. I’ve written the numbers on a sticky note which I’ve left on the fridge.

My cat needs to be fed twice daily so each morning and evening put a handful of cat biscuits 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 mail box every day and keep the outside lights on at night.

I look forward to seeing you on my return.

Yours,

Katie

👆 Pay attention to the blue – topic-specific vocabulary, green – linkers, brown – grammatical structures.

The examiner’s comment:

  • Task achievement : The response addresses all three bullet points and the candidate states their purpose directly. The tone is informal and appropriate throughout the letter. 9.0
  • Coherence and cohesion: Organisation is logical and relevant for an informal letter, there is clear progression thorough it. Ideas are arranged coherently with a range of cohesive devices and referencing [however | these | also | finally]. 9.0
  • Lexical resource: The range of vocabulary is wide, with very skilful use [house-sit | handful | for security | look forward to | on my return]. 9.0
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: The grammar includes a variety of complex grammatical structures, with numerous long sentences containing a number of clauses [ If you need... I’ll be staying | I’ve written| needs to be fed |unless there has been]. 9.0
  • Writing band score : 9.0

👆 TIP. Use this structure to get a high score for task achievement:

  • .Greeting: Dear Carolyn,
  • Opening statement (introduction/purpose): Thank you for agreeing to house-sit for me.
  • Response to the 1st bullet point: If you need to contact me during my holiday, I’ll be staying at the Imperial Hotel in Bundaberg. If it’s urgent, however, please ring my mobile phone, which I’ll keep with me at all times. I’ve written the numbers on a sticky note which I’ve left on the fridge.
  • Response to the 2nd bullet point: My cat needs to be fed twice daily so each morning and evening put a handful of cat biscuits 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.
  • Response to the 3rd bullet point: 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 mail box every day and keep the outside lights on at night.
  • Closing sentence: I look forward to seeing you on my return.
  • Closing phrase: Yours,
  • Your first name: Katie

👆 The number of paragraphs depends on the task and your description.

👆 TIPS on Linkers:

  1. Use at least 2-3 informal or neutral cohesive devices, for example:

  • also
  • First / second / finally
  • One more thing, …
  • Just one final thing.
  • Anyway, ... / actually, ...
  • As for …

👆 TIPS on Vocabulary:

  1. Use informal expressions throughout your letter.

Examples:

  1. Opening statements: I've been meaning to write for ages. Sorry for having been out of touch for a short while. I thought I'd drop you a line. I wanted to update you on my ... Sorry for not writing for so long. etc.
  2. Closing sentences: Anyway, tell me all your news and I promise not to leave it so long this time! Please keep in touch and …. Please let me know how you are doing these days. Anyway, get in touch and let’s see if we can make a time. Looking forward to catching up.
  3. Closing phrases: Speak to you soon. Take care. Warm wishes. All the best, Lots of love..
  4. Make sure you use some informal or neutral: collocations, phrasal verbs and idioms, for example: collocations (to have fun, to stay in touch, to be a fan of, lovely/amazing /cool vibe), phrasal verbs (hang out, get on well with, get back to (me), find out, get away with, mess around), idioms (safe and sound, sick and tired, be on cloud nine, to be over the moon, as cool as a cucumber).

Task 1. Letter of invitation

👆 TIPS on topic-specific vocabulary:

  • Opening statements: I thought I’d drop you a line and see if you fancy coming over for ..., I want to share some exciting news with you …, I’d like to invite you to …, I'm writing to invite you to ...
  • Closing sentences: Would you like to come? Hope you can come. I really hope you’ll be able to come over. I hope you’ll be able to make it.
  • Other informal expressions: It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. It will also be lovely to … I would love to see you and … You shouldn't have too much trouble finding …

Task 1. Letter of request

👆 TIPS on topic-specific vocabulary:

  • Opening statements: I’m writing to ask you a favour. Can I ask a favour of you? Could you do me a massive favour? I wanted to ask if you …
  • Closing sentences: Thank you for your help. Many thanks. Thanks for your help. You’re a lifesaver!
  • Other informal expressions: Can you help me out with ...? One more thing I was wondering about ... One more thing I wanted to ask you about ... Sorry to bombard you with so many questions. Don't forget to ...

Task 1. Letter of thanks or appreciation

👆 TIPS on topic-specific vocabulary:

  • Opening statements: I just want to thank you for… Many thanks for ... I really appreciate you helping me out. Thanks so much for ...
  • Closing sentences: Thanks again! Thank you for your help once again. Thanks for everything. You’re a lifesaver! I really owe you one!
  • Other informal expressions: I don’t know what I’d do without you. You have always been there for me. Thanks so much for always being around. I always hoped to have a friend like you.

Task 1. Letter of suggestion

👆 TIPS on topic-specific vocabulary:

  • Opening statements: I’m writing to give you some (travel) tips and advice. I’m writing to give you some information to think about before … I’d be happy to help you with … Let’s see if I can ...
  • Closing sentences: I hope this helps. Do let me know if… Feel free to contact me any time. Tell me your final decision. I’ll support you whatever you choose to do.Let me know how it goes.
  • Other informal expressions: I’m thinking of... You’d better … It might be a good idea to ... It’s worth a try. It would be so (fun) to ... It will also be lovely to ...

👆 TIPS on Grammar:

Use a variety of tenses:

  • Present continuous to describe something that is happening right now, temporary events, or trends.

Example: I’m writing to give you some (travel) tips and advice.

  • Past simple and Past perfect to describe the time in the past.

Examples: It meant a lot to me. / By the end of last year we had finished the project.

  • Present perfect and Present perfect continuous when you are describing something that started in the past and is still continuing.

Examples: It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. / I have been using your products for over 10 years.

  • Future simple and Future perfect to speak about the future.

Examples: Sure, I’ll be happy to … / By the end of the year we'll have moved house.

Use quantifiers correctly:

Countable nouns: many/a lot of, (a) few, a number of (people)

Uncountable nouns: much/a lot of, (a) little, an amount of (time)

Examples: only a few people... /very little time.../ a large number of issues...

Use a variety of modal verbs:

  • “Can” for ability and asking for permission:

Examples: Let’s see if I can help you. / Can I ask a favour of you?

  • “Should” for giving advice.

Example: You should move house asap.

  • “Would” instead of “want” (would like/love).

Example: I would love to see you at the party.

👆 TIP. Use our cool checklist while practising at home. It will help you to get prepared for the exam.

In conclusion, mastering the art of informal letter writing for the IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 involves adopting a style close to spoken English, keeping it relaxed and clear. This guide covers the four main types if informal letter writing and equips you with important tips, examples, and essential vocabulary to help you confidently handle different situations and improve your writing skills.

(Cюда можно вставить ссылку на гайд по Informal Letters) Here you can read our Formal Letter Writing Guide with essential tips, example structures and useful vocabulary.