Informal letters are sent to people you know well (for example, friends, relatives, etc.) about your recent news, personal problems, the information you need, etc. They are written in an informal style with a personal tone.
In informal letters we use:
- Direct and personal tone ‘I think’, ‘You should’ and direct sentences ‘I think it’s a good idea’ instead of ‘It would be a good idea’
- Informal vocabulary, ‘totally, lots of stuff’ including phrasal verbs (‘go on’ instead of ‘continue)
- Contractions/short forms I’ve just heard you’ve been to…
- Informal linking words ‘Plus, Also, Well, Anyway, To sum up, In a nutshell’
- Idioms ‘Call it a day’, ‘break the leg’, ‘It’s not rocket science’
- Colloquial expressions ‘I’m most interested’ instead of ‘I am really interested’
- Slang ‘loaded, lit, gutted, cheeky, dude, go bananas’
- Abbreviations ‘ASAP, TV, photo, cell, net’
- Punctuation using exclamation marks (don’t overuse it)
The CAE test does not require you to include dates or addresses in any of your letters, whether formal or informal.
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Structure
|2. The first paragraph (opening)
Say why you are writing
|3. The next paragraphs (main content)
Give further details or the information that you have been told to give.
|4. Closing and signing off
Give a reason why you’re ending the letter.
The finish on a positive note. Leave comments about future contacts.
Sign off with your name.
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Writing Guide
Start with Dear followed by the first name of the person to whom you are writing. In emails, you can also start with Hi (and the person’s name). Dear Ben, or Hi Ben, (Don’t forget to use only the first name of the person you are writing to and not Dear Mr John, which is never used, or Dear Mr John Brown, which sounds too formal.)
When writing an informal letter, you are usually replying to another letter. You would normally start with a greeting, then acknowledge the letter to which you are replying. It is often a good idea to acknowledge some key information given in the original letter too.
Example opening phrases:
Example 1: Many thanks for your (recent/last) letter. And it is great you are finally ….
Example 2: How are you? I’m really sorry that I forgot to send you ….. but….
Example 3: It was good /nice/great to hear from you again ….
Say why you are writing. If you need to change agreements or turn someone down, give reasons. Give the information that you have been told to give. Add some more details of your own if you like.
Paragraph 1: First of all, you absolutely need to….
Paragraph 2: Secondly, I would advise you to….
Paragraph 3: On your free weekend you should ….
First of all, you absolutely need […]
Within a paragraph:
It was nominated to become […] Also, don’t forget to […]
The end of your letter is as important as the beginning. There are some standard ways of finishing an informal letter or email.
Give a reason why you’re ending the letter:
Anyway, I must go and get on with my work.
I guess it’s time I got on with that studying I’ve been avoiding.
Send greetings and/or make reference for future contact:
Give my love /regards to…
We must try and meet up soon…
Closing and signing off
Love /Lots of love / All the best / Take care / Bestwishes
Julia [your name]
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Example Letters
Read part of an email from a friend who is planning on spending their Erasmus year in your country.
It goes without saying that I will need to learn Spanish, or at least have a good base before I come, but this is easier said than done. Are there any ways that I could save time doing this?
Could you give me any useful tips to improve quickly?
Reply to the email message offering your friend some advice. Write your email in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.
Long time, no see! What a surprise to receive your email. How long has it been? I think I last saw you when we were backpacking in Peru.
To start with, as far as I remember your Spanish was pretty good back then so what you really need to do is brush up on what you have studied in the past. You are a very sociable person and I am sure you will learn in no time once you are here, but I would recommend studying a little online beforehand. Have you heard of the websites www.appf.es or www.intercambioidiomasonline.com? They have some great resources for you to get started.
Providing that you have time to get out and about, I would also recommend finding a language learning partner to keep up you motivation. It would be a great idea to join a conversation group to get some practise. Having said that, on the internet you can also join groups of Facebook to chat to other language learners.
Another thing is to make sure you are consistent. It is a great idea to study a little very day, doing things that you enjoy. So, what I would advise is to do the magic combination of an online course, a language learning partner and also a general course book so that you can get up to speed with grammar structures and common vocabulary.
If you need anything else, give me a buzz at 622950782 and we can have a chat.
Ok, catch you later.
You have received a letter from an English friend:
My new job is great, and next month I get to travel on business. Guess what – I’m actually coming to your town for a week!
I’ll be free some evenings and one weekend. I want to make the most of this opportunity, so I’d like your advice please: where to go, what to do, and why?
Write your letter in reply. You do not need to include postal addresses
Congratulations on getting a new job! And it is great you are finally getting a chance to visit our town.
First of all, you absolutely need to visit our new waterpark ,,Aqua 3000”, it’s got all the awesome waterslides, the most amazing shapes and heights. We have different kinds of saunas there as well, if you fancy. As it is winter already, visiting the waterpark can be a nice opportunity to relax and warm your bones a little.
Secondly, I would advise you to visit our new 5D cinema. I remember, you have told me once you’d really love to visit one of those, well, here is your chance! It is an exciting and unforgettable experience, you’ll be sitting in a moving chair, feel the wind or even water dripping down on your head. I know you are a big fan of horror movies, and our cinema has a large choice of them.
On your free weekend you should visit our famous club ,,31/11”. At the time of your visit there will be performing an awesome DJ Skream, you have probably heard of him. The club itself is a superb place to hang out at and to dance. The bartender makes the most delicious cocktails in the world, I swear.
I hope some of my suggestions will proof useful to you. May be on one of your free evenings you will find time to stop by my house and we’ll have a nice chat about your new job.
Here is part of a letter you have just received from an English pen friend:
I really don’t know what to do. Although I enjoy college life in general, I’m finding the work really difficult. I’m sure I won’t pass my final exams this summer. Perhaps I Should give up the course now? My parents would be furious
thought! What would you do if you were me?
Write a letter to your friend, advising her whether to continue the course or not and giving her some reassurance.
Thanks for your letter. I was very sorry to hear that you are struggling a bit at college. Between you and me, I’ve felt the same way at times, but I’ve never considered giving up my studies. I don’t think you should either!
You should keep telling yourself that it’s only for another six months. That’s not very long to wait, is it? You ‘ve already spent two and an half years at college – it would be such a shame to stop now. I’m sure you’d regret it at some stage in your life if you did leave, too.
Try to set aside a little more time for studying, then you won’t find it all so hard. How about drawing up a weekly plan of what you need to do, in advance? And if it means missing some parties, I’m afraid that’s tough! You may enjoy the social side of being at college, but once exams loom up on the horizon, you have to forget about going out with your friends for a while.
I think your parents would have every right to be ‘furious ‘ if you quit. They have paid for a lot of the course, haven’t they? See it through to the end, for their sake and yours. After ail, the qualification will help you to
get a good job afterwards, won’t it?
Jane, stick with it, okay? I’ll be thinking of you over the next few months – and remember, it will soon be over. The very best of luck!
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Example Questions
You’ve received a letter from someone who was a friend at school. Your friend moved to another part of the country and you lost touch with each other. Reply to the letter giving your news and suggesting a meeting.
Now write your letter. You do not need to include any postal addresses
You have received a letter form an English friend:
“My job is great, and next month I get to travel on business. Guess what – I’m actually coming to your town for a week! I’ll be free some evenings and one weekend. I want to make the most of this opportunity, so I’d like your advice please: where to go, what to do, and why?
Write your letter in reply. You do not need to include postal addresses
Read part of an email from a friend who is planning to come and live in your country.
Of course, I’d really need to learn the language. I know you’ve been learning English for years, so you’ve had loads of experience. Are there any tricks of the trade that might help me pick up your language a bit more quickly?
Write your email in an appropriate style.
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Tips & Strategy
- Begin by giving a reason to write. You would normally start with a greeting, then acknowledge the letter or some key information given in the letter to which you are replying.
- Use paragraphs in which you cover each of the points mentioned in the task input.
- As well as the points mentioned in the task input, think of some of your own ideas.
- Identify the function(s) you should use (e.g. advising, reminding, requesting, suggesting…).
- Make sure the points covered follow a logical right order so that the whole letter/email is coherent.
- Finish the letter/email in a natural way, by arranging to see or contact the person you are writing to again soon.
- Remember to use an informal tone.
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Writing Checklist
After writing your text, you can check it yourself using the writing checklist below.
How to do that? Simply check your text/email by answering the questions one by one:
- Have I covered all the key information required by the task?
- Have I written only information which is relevant to the task?
- Have I developed the basic points in the task with my own ideas?
- Have I achieved the main purpose(s) of the text (for example, explaining, persuading, suggesting, apologising, comparing, etc.)?
- Have I used a suitable mix of fact and opinion?
- Have I used a suitable style and register (formal or informal) for the task?
- Have I used paragraphs appropriately to organise my ideas?
- Have I used other organisational features appropriately for the genre of the text (for example, titles, headings, openings, closings, etc.)?
- Is the connection between my ideas clear and easy for the reader to follow? (For example, have I used appropriate linking words, pronouns, etc. to refer to different things within the text?)
- Are the ideas balanced appropriately, with suitable attention and space given to each one?
- Have I used a wide range of vocabulary?
- Have I avoided repeating the same words and phrases?
- Have I used a range of simple and more complex grammatical structures?
- Have I correctly used any common phrases which are relevant to the specific task or topic?
- Is my use of grammar accurate?
- Is my spelling accurate?
C1 Advanced (CAE) Informal Letter/Email: Useful phrases
Useful phrases for an informal letter: (use as set phrases in the exam, don´t experiment with new vocabulary or grammar)
Thanks for your letter, it´s great to hear from you
Long time, no see! What a surprise to receive your email.
It was great to receive your email
Thanks for the email, it seems to me that
I´m glad that…. What I think/reckon is (that)
Glad to hear about.
I’m really glad to hear about
I’m very happy to hear about
I was very happy to read about
I’m extremely sorry to hear about.
I’m very sorry to hear about.
Sorry to read about.
Its very sad to hear about you.
I can’t tell you how sad I am that.
I’m writing to ask for your help/you (if you could do me) a favour.
I wonder if/l was wondering if you could help me/do me a favour.
| hope you don’t mind me asking but could you (possibly) …?
I’d be very/really/terribly grateful if you could …
Why don’t you …? Maybe you could …? How about …?
You can’t leave New York without doing sth
I’m sure you will enjoy doing sth If you like, we can …
Do visit (somewhere). Don’t forget to (do sth) (Imperative -> Strong Recommendation)
I’m told that … People say that … (If you heard sth is good)
By the way
Did you hear about
Did you see
Have you seen
Tell me about
Oh, another thing
Listen, did I tell you about …? You’ll never believe what …
Oh, and another thing … This is just to let you know that …
I thought you might be interested to hear about/know that …
By the way, have you heard about/did you know that …
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Ok, catch you later.
Ok, well, see you soon.
Well, time to go
Well, it’s time to go
Well, got to go
Well, time to close
I’ve got to leave off now
Make sure you write soon
Lots of love
All my love
Will write again soon
Look after yourself
Take care of yourself
All the best
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