Formal vs Informal letters

NOTE: This topic is for IELTS General Training test ONLY. If you are taking the IELTS Academic Training test then skip this post.


Use the following in INFORMAL letters

  • Beginning: Dear + first name
  • Friendly greeting: I hope you are in the pink of health
  • Contractions: I'm, didn't, couldn't, don't, you've etc.
  • Questions: Do you remember ...? Why don't you ...?
  • Exclamation: I can't wait to see you!
  • Connectors: Well, anyway, so, and
  • Phrases: had a great time, couldn't have asked for more, working flat out, back to normal
  • Ending: hope to see you soon + first name


Use the following in FORMAL letters

  • Beginning: Dear Sir or Madam
  • No greeting necessary
  • Do not use contractions: I am instead of I'm, could not instead of couldn't
  • Avoid direct questions: "I would like ..." instead of "Can I have ...?"
  • No exclamation marks (!)
  • Connectors: Consequently, However, although, also, and
  • Phrases and vocabulary: with regard to, failed to, he assured me, I reported the issue, contacted, under warranty
  • Ending: I await your prompt response, Yours faithfully + full name


In today's IELTS playlist, you will learn how to recognise the type of letter and write in a consistent tone.

Click on the playlist below to start learning NOW!


As always, if you have any questions about this topic, ask them in the comments below or contact us on


For unlimited feedback with speaking and writing tasks sign up for IELTS Twenty20 Correction Pack today!

Best of luck.


  1. Daniel Timmler 6 years ago

    the video number 4 is exactly the same video, as in the topic “Understanding the purpose of the letter”.

    Is this correct ?? Or why are you repeating the video ??

    • Author
      IELTS Online Practice 6 years ago

      Dear Daniel,

      Thanks for pointing that out. I have removed the video from the other playlist.

      Hope you are finding the course useful. Feel free to send your writing and speaking tasks for assessment anytime.


      • Daniel Timmler 6 years ago

        Hello Atul,

        thanks a lot. When do you recommend to realize a writing task and the end of the lesson ?


        • Author
          IELTS Online Practice 6 years ago

          Dear Daniel,

          Feel free to send one sooner rather than later. The best way to improve is to work on your specific weaknesses. The feedback will highlight the areas you need to work on.

          The practice tasks are at the end of the module with instructions on how to submit them for assessment.


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