Letters There are two types of letters

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There are two types of letters – the personal (informal) and the formal..

  • Decide whether your letter is formal or informal.

  • Always write your own address at the top (on the right) and the date underneath.

What readers do you have in mind?

  • family members

  • people you are familiar with

How to write a personal letter

  • no strict rules

  • about personal matters

  • correspondence between people who feel safe with each other.

  • colloquial language and short forms are all right

  • syntax can be simple

Suitable Phrases


Dear Jane,…




Best wishes…

Kind regards…


Lots of love…

Take care…

Yours as always…



  • informal greeting

  • the following new line begins with a capital letter.

  • informal tone and style of writing

  • concluding phrase

  • familiar closing phrase

  • signature (typed in e-mail)

Hi Dot,

Heard the latest? Jenny has dumped her boyfriend. They had an awful row. Must dash now. Call you tonight.



What readers do you have in mind?

  • companies and institutions

  • people whose help you need but whom you do not know (well)

How to write a formal letter

It is used when writing to companies, institutions and people you do not know. Make a good impression and stick to these rules.

  • Divide your letter into three parts and at least three paragraphs:

  1. introduction: why you write

  2. the subject matter: come to the point

  3. conclusion: sum up what you want politely

  • substance straight to the point, no waffling

  • formal style as a sign of respect

  • neutral use of language

  • careful choice of vocabulary

  • full forms (‘cannot’ or ‘does not’)

  • The writer’s address at the top (in the right corner, without name)

  • Phone number

  • E-mail address


Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Smith, …

Dear Madam or Sir,…

Closing phrase

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you very much in advance for your help.


Yours sincerely…

(if addressed by name)

Yours faithfully (if addressed to Madam or Sir)


sender’s address only

number, street

town (country)

post/zip code


(U.S.) month DD,YYYY

(U.K.) DD month in words, YYYY

recipient’s name and address

Name (if known) or job title (e.g. The Manager),

The Name of the Company or Institution,

number, street

place post code


subject matter

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing as a…

My reason for contacting you concerns…

My specific request is to ask you whether…

If you require any clarification of the details…

Closing phrase

Thank you, in advance, for taking time to… / Hoping to hear from you…

Closing and signature

Yours sincerely /faithfully

www.englisch-bw.de – Schreiben – Textsortentraining – formal and informal letters

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