IELTS General Writing Task 1: Types of Letters
What type of letter should I write?
In IELTS General Writing Task 1, there are three types of letters:
- formal letter
- semi-formal letter
- informal letter (also known as a personal letter)
Here you will learn how to identify the type of letter you need to write and what beginnings-endings and tone of letter you should use. You'll also see relevant sample letters under each type.
Before you start writing, it is essential that you fully understand which type of letter you have to write.
To outline the main differences between formal, semi-formal and informal letters and also help you decide which letter style you should use, see the following table:
Formal Letter & Sample
A formal letter is when you need to write to a company or organisation where you don't know the person to who you are writing. For example, a bank or a foreign university.
Common formal letters are complaints, applications, resignations, making arrangements.
See a formal letter sample: Request Letter
Semi-formal Letter & Sample
A semi-formal letter is when you write to someone you know by name and with whom you have a business or professional relationship. So someone you know, but they are not a close friend with you. For example, a teacher, trainer, neighbour, landlord, manager, work colleague etc.
The surname should be used when addressing them. The topic of the letter will be more on the formal side as it is usually focused on a problem to solve.
Common semi-formal letters are invitations, explanations, informative letters (all the letters can also be personal).
See a semi-formal letter sample: Complaint Letter
Informal/Personal Letter & Sample
An informal letter is when you write to a friend, family member or someone you know personally, and you write about a personal situation.
Common personal letters are invitations, explanations, informative letters, apology (all these letters can be semi-formal as well).
See an informal letter sample: Informal Letter