Прохорова Оксана Васильевна
0 Методический материал по английскому "Пишем письма"

 Writing letters


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:


  • sender's name;

  • address;

  • letter's date; however, there is a letterhead giving the name if the office, as well as its address in business letters.


2. The salutation.


The most common salutations in informal letter is:


Dear Herry, ...(to a person you know personally);


Dearest, …


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:


  • the purpose of writing is stated right in the first paragraph


5. Complimentary Close.


The complimentary close in the informal letter is always friendly


  • Best wishes, ...

  • Love, ...

  • 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, ...


  • Yours Faithfully, …

  • Yours Sincerely, …

  • Faithfully yours, … (less official)


6. Signature.


After the complimentary close in the formal letter, leave two lines, then write your full name, for example:


Yours Sincerely,


Kate Ivanova 



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


  • contractions are often used

  • formal expressions are substituted with colloquial words.




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.


Vocabulary difference


Formal           Informal


Inform me      Let me know


Contract         Get in touch


Obtain           Get


Apologise       Say sorry


Discover         Find out


Children         Kids


Many/ much    A lot of


Postpone         Delay


Handle            Deal with


I'll give some examples of


1. an informal letter:




Dear Helen,


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?


Truly yours,




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.










Используемая литература:


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.


2 http://engblog.ru/letter-to-friend


3 http://www.english.language.ru/ege/writing_strategies.html




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