In this lesson I’m going to show you the strategy and plan you need to follow in order to write an informal letter for the IELTS General Task 1. Keep in mind that the majority of times you are going to be asked to write a formal letter and you can read this lesson for a formal letter here, but now let’s see how an informal task would look like:
WRITING TASK 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
Two weeks ago, you and your friend went on a trip together where you had a great time. It seems that some of your personal belongings were mixed up with his. He has just sent you back your things. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
- thank him for sending your things back
- explain why you didn’t write earlier
- invite him to stay with you for some days
Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any addresses. Begin your letter as follows:
This is your task. It is obviously an informal letter since you write to a friend. You have to begin your letter with “Dear” and since this is your friend, you can come up with any name you like in this case. Let’s just say that your friend’s name is John: we have “Dear John,”
After that, things are pretty simple. You don’t have to worry about this task, it is a letter to a friend. However, do not get too carried away because it is a friendly letter and start writing the story of your life. No, you should still be organised. So, you will use one paragraph for each of the three points above in the task.
Let’s see the first point again: “thank him for sending your things back”. So, in your first paragraph you will do exactly that in an informal tone. This means that your tone can be friendly and conversational as you would speak to him. You can use informal expressions such as phrasal verbs and “Thanks” instead of “Thank you” and you can also use contractions of verbs (for instance, “isn’t; can’t; won’t; I’ve; I’m” instead of “is not; cannot; will not; I have; I am”)–> all these that you cannot do in a formal letter.
So, let’s see:
Thanks so much for your letter and for sending my personal belongings back to me. Honestly, I don’t even know how they ended up in your bag in the first place! Funny, isn’t it? I guess we both had too many drinks at some point.
As you can see, in order to develop each of the three points of the task you should invent some things but just use your imagination and it will be almost fun! Also, notice that my tone is very friendly and warm and I use humour since this is a very close friend of mine; we went on holiday together, right? I use informal language, phrasal verbs, and contractions of verbs. Of course, don’t overdo it! This is a close friend but still, the letter is going to be read by an examiner so be decent and polite. No rude phrases or swearing or anything like that, ok?
Accordingly, you will write one paragraph for the second point: “explain why you didn’t write earlier” and your last paragraph is going to be about the third point: “invite him to stay with you for some days”. Again, despite being informal, you should still be organised and coherent. You can explain why you didn’t write sooner and then remember your holidays and consequently invite him to spend some time together again. Do you see how smoothly this goes? One thought leads you to the next one even if you think ideas by yourself.
Let’s see now how you can close your letter. No “Yours faithfully” or “Yours sincerely” in an informal letter. You will close your letter with one of the following: “Warm wishes, Best wishes, All the best, Yours, Regards”. Before that though, you can still use “I’m looking forward to hearing from you.” In this case, in this letter, we will close our letter by writing:
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
That’s all! Now you just need to practice and improve grammar, syntax, vocabulary and your spelling. If you’d like to see the rest of the letter you can do it here.
For extra help, you can also watch the video lesson: