Letter Types

Different Types of IELTS Letters:

In task 1 of the GT IELTS writing test, you will have to write a letter of 150 words. The letter question could be one of the various topics that we usually see on IELTS tests. The letter topic would be a formal, informal or semi-formal situation. And you need to write your response based on the type of letter. For example, you should use formal expressions while writing a formal letter and informal tone while writing a letter to a friend, which is informal in nature. The letters have different purposes as well. For instance, to invite a friend to a birthday party or to apply for a job. Thus the purpose of the letter makes them different as well.

In this section, we will learn about different types of letters and go through some examples of each type of letter.

The primary three types of letters are:
Formal, Semi-formal and Informal (also known as personal) letter.

The main purposes of these letters are to:
Apply for a job, ask for information, make a complaint, response to the request for information, thank someone or to ask for an apology from someone.

You may also be interested in "Band 8/9 IELTS Letters" article which outlines how to achieve 8+ band score in IELTS GT Writing Task 1 and also gives a few 8/9 band level sample answers.
 

IELTS Letter Types based on Formality:

Certain styles and expressions are required for writing a letter on certain occasions and to write to certain persons. When deciding to what style your letter would be, consider who you are writing to and why you are writing. There could be one of the three types of formalities you need to follow while writing a letter - Formal, Semi-formal and Informal. 

Formal letters:
You write a formal letter when you write to a person or someone in a company you do not personally know and the situation is business, professional, or official. You need to begin the letter by addressing ' Dear Sir or Madam' (since you don't even know if the person is a male or a female) and write the letter in a formal language. You sign off the letter by saying "Yours faithfully", and then write your full name.

Read Sample Answers of Formal Letters:

Semi-formal letters:
Semi-formal letters are meant to address your acquaintances, whom you personally know but who are not your friends, for instance, your landlord, relatives, neighbours and family members. The tone of the letter should be friendlier than a formal letter but not too casual like when you write to a friend. Start your letter as "Dear (Surname/second name of the person), and sign off writing your full name.

Read Sample Answers of Semi-formal Letters:

Informal letters:
Informal letters are also known as personal letters as you write such a letter to a friend. The tone of the letter should be less formal and more casual. However, do not use curse words, slangs, or abbreviations that you use on an online chat room like wanna, gonna, LOL. You begin your letter using Dear (your friend's first name) and then sign off writing your last name only.

Read Sample Answers of Informal or Personal Letters:

 

IELTS Letter Types based on Purpose:

A letter can have different objectives or purposes. While sometimes we write a formal letter to apply for a job, other times we write a formal letter to complain about a service or to request for some information. Thus identifying the purpose of a letter is important (just after noticing the formality of a letter). Similarly, when you write to your landlord to invite him/her to a party will have quite a different style or tone than writing a letter to the same landlord who denies returning your advance when you vacate the apartment. This is why we have classified the letters based on their purposes so that you can read sample answers based on the purpose of the letter and get to know how to answer them.

It is quite important that when you read your task, you work out the purpose of the letter you need to write. You need to focus on this purpose throughout the letter to score well for task achievement.

For the IELTS exam you need to be able to write one of the following types of letters:

Requesting information:
This type of IELTS letter requires you to write a letter primarily to ask for some information from someone or from a company or business.

Read requesting information type IELTS letters:

Giving information:
This type of IELTS letter requires you to write a letter to respond to a request made by someone to you for some information.

Read giving information type IELTS letters:

Making a complaint:
This type of letter (a complaint letter) requires you to write a letter to complain about a product, service or situation.

Read IELTS letters for making a complaint:

Making an apology:
This type of letter (an apology letter) requires you to write a letter to apologise for making a mistake, causing inconvenience to someone, or causing damage to something.

Read IELTS letters for making an apology:

Thanking someone:
This type of letter (a thank you letter) requires you to write a letter to thank someone for his/her help, thoughtfulness or kindness.

Read IELTS letters for thanking someone:

Congratulating someone:
This type of letter (congratulation letter) requires you to congratulate someone (a friend, colleague or a family member) for some achievements of this person.

Read IELTS letters for congratulating someone:

Applying to a job:
This type of letter (job application) requires you to apply for a full-time or part-time job that thas been advertised recently. A job application is always formal.

Read IELTS letters for a job application:

Inviting someone:
This type of letter (invitation letter) requires you to invite someone to a party or event. It could be either a semi-formal or informal letter as you write it to someone you know.

Read IELTS letters for inviting someone:

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