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How to write informal Letter / Email? | C2 Proficient (CPE)

Level: C2
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C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Structure 
C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Writing Guide
C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Example Answers
C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Writing Topics
C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Tips
C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Useful Phrases & Expressions
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Letters in the C2 Proficiency Writing paper will require a response which is consistently appropriate for the specified target reader, and you can expect to be asked to write letters to, for example, the editor of a newspaper or magazine, to the director of an international company, or to a school or college principal.

As you probably know, letters may be formal or informal. This article will help you to understand how to write a letter/email in an informal style.

Informal style

An informal letter is a form of communication between two people (sometimes more) who usually know each other well. Although there are many uses and reasons for writing an informal letter, it usually consists of topics on a personal level. An informal letter is usually less formal than a business letter.

Informal writing is characterized by the use of:

  • 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)

C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Structure 

1.Salutation
Preferably beginning with “Dear…” or “Hi…”.
2. The first paragraph (opening)
the reason why you’re writing this letter / the topic
3. The next paragraphs (main content
Say why you are writing. Give the information that you have been told to give. Add some more details of your own if you like.
4. Closing and signing off
Let the reader know you have finished your letter;
Send greetings and/or make references for future contact. Sign off with your name.
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C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Writing Guide

1. Salutation

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.)

Salutation examples:

  • Dear Tom
  • Dearest Jane
  • Hi/hello, Karen!

2. The first paragraph (opening)

Usually consists of an introduction providing the recipient with an idea of the letter’s purpose, along with a summary of the main topic. If you don’t know the recipient, you can also introduce yourself in the introductory paragraph.

Example opening phrases

  • Just thought I’d drop you a line
  • Thank you for your letter
  • Sorry I haven’t written for so long
  • Great to hear from you again.

3. The next paragraphs (main content)

Usually consist of the message you intend to convey, along with all the details. Say why you are writing. Give the information that you have been told to give.

Other useful phrases

  • I’m really sorry that I forgot to …..  but I was busy with ….
  • I’m writing to ask for your help / you (if you could do me) a favour.
  • I hope you don’t mind me asking but could you (possibly)

4. Closing and signing off

Normally constitutes a summary of the message. You can summarise your main idea in this paragraph, express your thanks for the recipient’s time, wish them the best, and/or ask any questions.

  • Closing statement
    Well, I think that’s about it /
    Well, that’s all for now / Well, I’d better finish off here / Waiting for your letter
  • Signing off
    Lots of kisses / 
    Take care /  All my love

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 TIP: Remember about “linking” in the letter!

Between paragraphs:

Let me start by telling you a […]
By the way, do you have a […]

Anyway, I must go and get on, […]

Within a paragraph:

It was nominated to become […] Also, don’t forget to […]

C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Example Answers

Informal Letter subject:

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?

Reply to the email message offering your friend some advice

Student’s CPE Informal Letter Answer:

Dear Emma,

Thanks so much for your email. It was so good to hear from you. I’m really sorry not to have been in touch earlier but I’ve been up to my eyes preparing for my exams.

What great news that you’re finally coming to France learn French too – fantastic!

I’ve been learning English since I was a kid as you know, and by far the most useful experience was going to that language school in Brighton for three months last summer. If I were you to keep you focused. I’d also suggest reading as widely as possible, online newspapers, blogs, books, the back of a cereal packet – anything, really! Don’t be tempted to buy one of those  ‘Learn French in weekend courses’ though – a waste of time if you ask me. Learning a language takes time and effort.

What seems to work for a lot of people is learning songs. My brother reckons that he has learnt more English from the Top 40 than he has at school. And you know family, so that’s worth a try too. Of course, you could also get a French boyfriend or girlfriend to speed up your progress!

Anyway, I hope that’s helped give you a few ideas. Do write back as soon details of your plans.

Lots of love, Sandrine

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Informal Letter subject:

An online blog in English has invited readers and visitors to send in letters sharing embarrassing things that have happened to them. You decide to send a letter to them in which, briefly describe an embarrassing story. Say whether think these embarrassing moments he. us and explain why.

Write your letter.

Student’s CPE Informal Letter Answer:

Hi,

I’m writing to tell youone of my most embarrassing stories – it happened at the beginning of the school year. I had just started at a new school and I hadn’t met many people or made proper friends, so when we were asked to prepare a short performance for a history lesson, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

The subject of the performance was slavery. I have always been really interested in history so I quickly got stuck in to preparing two monologues, one from the perspective of the slave and the other from the slave owner’s point of view.

The day of the performance came, and I ended up going first. I stood up in front of the class, and performed my two speeches with as much emotion as I could muster – there were even a few tears. When I finished, there was a shocked silence. The teacher didn’t know what to say, and I heard a few of the other students sniggering. I was really confused and sat down worrying that I hadn’t performed very well. Then the next person got up and started doing their performance; and it was a simple, factual Powerpoint presentation!

I just wanted the ground to swallow me up! I barely knew these people and I had gone and made a complete fool of myself. We were just supposed to be doing presentations and I must have looked like a melodramatic show off with my monologues!

But actually, it ended up being quite a good ice-breaker. The teacher asked us to get into groups to discuss our presentations and I decided that instead of just ignoring my embarrassing performance, I would make a joke out of it. And it worked! I ended up making some new friends by laughing at myself.

Although it doesn’t feel great to embarrass yourself, I do think that it is important to learn to laugh at your-self and not take life too seriously – so actually, embarrassing moments are quite helpful. They remind us that we are all human and are all capable of doing and saying silly things from time to time!

Best wishes,
Abigail Anderson

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C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Writing Topics

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?

Reply to the email message offering your friend some advice

An online blog in English has invited readers and visitors to send in letters sharing embarrassing things that have happened to them. You decide to send a letter to them in which, briefly describe an embarrassing story. Say whether think these embarrassing moments he. us and explain why.

Write your letter.

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Get Your (CPE) Letter Checked!

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C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Tips

  • Begin your letter by saying why you are writing.
  • Remember,  the letter uses informal language.
  • Try to avoid using exactly the same words that appear in the notes.
  • Make sure you have included all the points from the notes.
  • Use an appropriate closing formula.
  • Decide what each paragraph will say before you start writing; each paragraph should have a specific purpose.
  • Imagine you are really writing the letter and put yourself into the writer’s position.
  • Check your work for accuracy, punctuation and spelling.
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C2 Proficient (CPE) Informal Letter: Useful Phrases & Expressions

GreetingsSet phrases for opening paragraphsSet phrases for closing paragraphsEndings
Dear TomJust thought I’d drop you a lineWell, I think that’s about itYours
Dearest JaneI hope you are fineWell, that’s all for nowLove
Hi/hello, Karen!What have you been up to?Well, I’d better finish off hereAll my love
I haven’t heard from you for agesI must go now  Best wishes
It was nice to hear from youWrite soonAll the best
Thank you for your letterWaiting for your letterLots of kisses
Sorry I haven’t written for so longI look forward to hearing from youTake care

 

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