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English Informal Letter Essay Spm My Best

In this lesson I show you how to write an informal letter for IELTS. I quickly talk you through the problems of informal letters then I show you a model letter with notes on how to make your letters informal. You need to think about:


Understanding the dangers of informal letters

It is easy to get an informal letter wrong by forgetting the rules of good writing. Here are some dangers:

you forget about  a clear structure to your letter – it’s easy to write to casually

you forget about range of vocabulary – informal doesn’t mean oversimple

you also forget range of grammar too

If you take a look at my letter below you will see a well-structured model with a good range of language

See my letter

Dear Rashid,

It was great to hear from you and I’m really glad that things are working out for you down under. It sounds as if you have landed on your feet!

Many thanks for your kind invitation to come and stay with you and Maybeline in Perth, but I’m going to have to turn you down this time. The problem is that I’m just too busy studying for my IELTS exam and I don’t have enough time in the day as it is. Perhaps I can take you up on your offer sometime next year, when I hope that I’ll have got that magic band score 8.0.

My other news is that Acme have offered me a promotion and soon I should be the senior accounts manager. Obviously that means more money but the downside is that I’m almost certainly going to have to work much longer hours too. There’s a cloud to every silver lining!

Anyway, I must get down to work again. So thanks once more for your kind invitation and I do hope that we can get together sometime in the not too distant future.

All the best


(188 words)

Read and understand the question – get task response right

As you read this question, you should note two key points:

you are writing to a friend and so you can expect to use more informal language
you have 3 items to include in your letter

A friend who lives in another country has invited to you come and stay with him/her on your next holiday. You are too busy to accept the invitation. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

Thank him/her for the invitation
Explain why you cannot come
Give him/her your other news

Structure the letter and use paragraphs

You still need to use paragraphs even though the letter is less formal.

One possibility is to use one paragraph for each point. Here I have done something slightly different as I have put the thank you in with the explanation. I follow a 4 paragraph structure:

chatty opening 

main para 1 – say thank you and explain why I can’t come

main para 2 – give other news

chatty close


Informal letters are chatty – think beginnings and endings

You are supposed to be writing to a friend, so it is a good idea to do what friends normally do – chat. In letters, this typically means that the letter opens with news and closes with the hope that you will see each other soon. This helps structure your letter.

Opening paragraph – say why you’re writing 

This is where you show what the letter is about. Here I follow the question by showing that this letter is to a friend who has just written to me and I add some detail in to show that we’re friends. I chat.

It was great to hear from you and I’m really glad that things are working out for you down under. It sounds as if you have landed on your feet!

Note the phrase “It was great to hear from you” this works much better here than “Thank you for your letter”.

Closing paragraph – remind about the most important point

This is where you normally say what happens next and perhaps summarise the main purpose of the letter. Here I apologise again:

Anyway, I must get down to work again. So thanks once more for your kind invitation and I do hope that we can get together sometime in the not too distant future.

For better vocabulary – think synonyms and collocations

You should remember that vocabulary is 25% of your score in all parts of the writing test. One problem with letters is that they may look too simple and that you forget to use a range of vocabulary. One suggestion is that you think of synonyms and collocations for the words in the question. See these variations from the word “invitation”:

invitation – accept/refuse, generous/kind, take up/turn down

The most stylish ones to use are “to take up an invitation” meaning to accept it and “to turn down an invitation” meaning to refuse it.

For better vocabulary – think about topic vocabulary

Another way you can improve your vocabulary score is to see how you can use specific topic vocabulary. Here, you should see that both in the explanation why you cannot come and giving your news, you have the chance to show off a little. The question is really just asking you to write about what you know. In my answer, I write a little about IELTS but more about work. This gives me the chance to use:

offer a promotion/senior accounts manager/more money/work longer hours

None of the vocabulary is very complex. It doesn’t need to be – this is an informal letter to a friend. It is, though, very specific. That’s good.

Phrasal verbs are great for informal letters

Phrasal verbs may look simple, but in fact they are extremely tricky to use well. But you should also see that some phrasal verbs are quite simple (“stay with”) and all you need to do is to remember to use them.

work out for = things are going well
land on your feet = a set phrase meaning that you have survived a possibly difficult situation (cats always land on their feet)
stay with = a simple phrasal verb to replace “visit”
turn someone down = note how the object comes between the verb and the preposition
take someone up on an offer = note that here too the object comes immediately after the verb
get down to work = start work
get together = meet each other

Idioms and set phrases

When you are writing informally to a friend, remember you can use idioms. Idioms can be tricky too, but some are more straightforward.

things – this is poor in academia writing, but stylish when writing more informally
down under – what the English call Australia – it’s on the other side of the globe.
not have enough time in the day – a set phrase for being too busy
the downside – an idiom for “disadvantage”
there’s a cloud to every silver lining – the normal phrase is every cloud has a silver lining – meaning that even when things look bad, there is normally a positive aspect too. Here, I have just changed the phrase around.
the not too distant future – a set phrase for “quite soon”

Other language to make your informal letters work

I’m really glad that – “really” may look like a little word, but here it is much more stylish than “very”
I’m just too busy – “just” is another little word that makes a difference. Her wis simply adds emphasis
I’ll have got – I vary my tenses nicely in this letter. Spot the future perfect here.
Obviously – don’t forget to link sentences together in letters.
almost certainly – another phrase you amy not have noticed. A top tip is to remember to use qualifying phrases like this.
Anyway – another linking word. This one is useful to come back to main point of the letter.

What to read next

P.O. Box 445,
Kampung Amboi 2,
Tenom, Sabah.
21 July 2016

Dear Razif,

I was disappointed to hear from Mum that you got into trouble with your discipline teacher. I was surprised to hear it, as I know that you do like your school and have done well in your exams so far. Mum said that you have to take extra classes now as a punishment. It seems not bad and I hope you take it in good spirit.

               Please do not skip classes again. It is a big mistake. Mum and Dad trust you to attend classes and do well while they work hard to earn money. You will let them down badly if you do not do what is expected of you. As it is, Mum was quite upset.

              When you miss classes, you will find it hard to follow your lessons. This will become a bigger problem when you cannot finish your homework or projects and lose marks in the school assessment. Eventually, you will feel overwhelmed at the work you have to put in to catch up. 

              I don’t have to tell you that you are starting a bad habit by cutting classes. You’re the one who is earning the bad implications out of this. Even the teachers will have a poor impression of you.

              You have been given a one in a million chance to study in an excellent school. So take this golden opportunity well. Second chances are rare and hard to come by. 

              Do you realize that your careless actions may be reflected in your testimonial? You will need a good testimonial to enter a good university, which will also allow you to get a job in the future. Don’t spoil your chance by acting foolishly. There is plenty of time for you to enjoy without cutting classes.

              I am sure you will act responsibly and be more conscientious and hard-working. This is your future we are talking about, so please don’t play truant again. No use looking back in regret one day. 

             Do well, Razif, and I wish you all the best.



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