IELTS general writing test task 1 informal letter
Writing an informal letter in the IELTS general training test is very easy if you follow certain steps. This article focuses on the main aspects related to letter writing, particularly with an emphasis on informal letters.
How many kinds of letters are there?
There are three basic types of letters although internally there are many other divisions.
a. Formal letters – These letters are written to address and issue which is a serious one or an official one that demands immediate attention and action to be taken. Formal letters are usually written to people whom we are not aware of, such as a letter requesting an accommodation at a hostel, a complaint regarding a faulty appliance, or a letter to the local council about issues in your community.
b. Semi-formal letters – Semi indicates half. So, these letters are neither completely formal nor completely informal. These letters are written to people whom we know, yet the issue has to be addressed on a serious note. For example, a letter was written to the landlord regarding a request to pay the rent on a later date, a letter written to the college librarian apologizing for not returning the books on the due date and requesting an extension, etc.
c. Informal letters – Informal letters are also called personal letters as these are written to people whom you know very well, like our friends and family. The issue is not so serious and can be addressed in a more casual tone. There is a difference between writing a formal letter and writing an informal letter in terms of the content and terms of the language which is used.
How to write an ielts general writing task 1 informal letter?
1. The first step in writing an informal letter is to identify whether the given question is a formal one or an informal one.
2. After this step, you should explain the theme of the letter and state the purpose clearly. Any letter question would be usually followed by three bullet points which you have to address in 3 body paragraphs. Finally, you should write a letter with the conclusion.
3. Organize the content logically and use proper connectors and the discourse markers to prove your efficiency in paragraphing. This is called coherence and Cohesion.
4. Remember to use the apt vocabulary for the topic. Do not descend into confusion by using synonyms which are completely unrelated or irrelevant to the topic.
5. Grammar forms the essence of the letter writing. Do not neglect this aspect. Show the examiner that you are aware of the various sentence structures, such as simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, complex – compound sentences, if conditional sentences, passive sentences, etc. Demonstrating this ability will elevate your score for grammatical range and accuracy.
6. Always have adequate time of at least two to five minutes at the end of the test to edit the letter for any possible errors in punctuation, spelling, choice of words, etc.
Let us consider the following question prompt and learn how to write an informal letter:
You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
You have just spent a weekend at a friend’s house. When you returned home, you discovered you have left a bag containing some belongings in his house.
Write a letter to your friend telling him that you left the bag.
-Tell him what the bag looks like, –
-Where you think you left it and what was inside it.
– Make some suggestions about how to get it back.
You should write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write your own address.
Begin your letter as follows:
Step 1: If we look at the given question prompt, we can notice that this letter is written to a friend. The topic is about a bag which you might have left at your friend’s place. So, it is not a formal situation. Thus, we can confirm that this letter comes under the informal letter category.
Step 2: Locating the keywords and determine the tense of each bullet point. You can clearly see that there are three bullet points listed under the question prompt, which are highly essential for us to write the body paragraphs. Remember that each and every bullet point should be explained clearly with suitable reasons to justify the point.
Step 3: Writing the letter
Always begin an informal letter with ‘Dear (first name of your friend),’. This is called salutation and it is very important in letter writing.
Followed by this is the introduction, where you ask about the well being of your friend and his family in one sentence followed by the purpose of writing the letter. You can start writing the purpose with the phrase ‘I’m writing to’. The difference between writing a formal letter and an informal letter is that in the informal letter you can use contractions such as I’m, I’d, we’ve, etc. Such contractions are strictly not to be used in the formal letter.
In this case, the first bullet point says
‘ Tell him what the bag looks like’. So, you have to use the present tense to tell your friend how the bag looks on the exterior so that it is easy for him to locate it. Here, you can mention various features like the color of the back and the brand, etc. You needn’t mention any relevant details such as the price of the bag and who gave it to you. This will be a negative factor.
In the second body paragraph, you should let your friend know the possible places where you might have left your bag in their house, such as in the living room or in the bedroom, etc. This will help your friend in finding it.
Finally, suggest your friend the various means of transporting it back to you and suggest that you can pay the courier charges for the same. End the letter with a sign-off note and a conclusion. The sign off note, in this case, can be ‘Warm Regards’ and this can be followed by your first name.