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Writing an informal letter or email

In this task and often in your final exam, you are asked to write a letter in
response to a situation described. It is essential that you read the task
description carefully (see unit 4 Writing Assignment).
1. An informal letter or email: structure

Dear Susan,
It feels like such a long time since the last time I saw you. I


know it's only been several weeks since I saw you. So far my
summer has been great!

I spend my all my weekends at the beach. I am getting a nice
tan and you can no longer say I am paler than you. I have been
playing lots of volleyball, surfing and building a nice collection of
sea shells. Just this past weekend I took second place in a
sandcastle building contest!
On the weekdays I work. I drive an ice cream truck around and
sell ice cream to the kids. The pay isn't too great but I love the job
so much.
I hope the summer's been going well for you too. There's only
a month and a half left in summer vacation and after that it's back to
school. Would you like to meet up some time before school starts?


Well, thats all for now.




End your letter with a

sign off

P.S. John says hi.

If you want to add anything
additional to the letter you write a
P.S. (post script)

2. Useful phrases for letters and emails

The words and expressions below are often used when writing to friends and relatives.
Using them will help you write in an informal style and will also help you organise your
letter into clear paragraphs.

Do some practice

Starting your letter (Paragraph 1)

Thanks for your letter. It was lovely to hear from
How are you? / How are things?
How have you been?
I hope you're well.
Commenting on something (Paragraph 1)
I'm sorry to hear/learn ...
I'm so pleased to hear ...
It's great to hear ...
What wonderful news about ...

Moving the topic on (Paragraph 2)

Anyway, the reason I'm writing ...
I thought I'd write to tell/ask you
Ending your letter (sign off)
Looking forward to hearing from you / seeing you.
Hope to hear from you soon / see you soon.
Well, that's all for now.
Write and tell me how you are getting on.
Write back soon.
Closing salutation

4. Vocabulary

All the best

Best wishes
Love (close friends)

Online dictionaries
When you are not sure if two words can go together
(that is to say, if they collocate) look them up here:
Oxford Collocation Dictionary

4. Using discourse connectors

Words like 'however' and 'although' are
discourse connectors or linkers and they
are the 'glue' that binds together a piece
of writing, making the different parts of the
text 'stick together'.
Without sufficient discourse markers in a
piece of writing, the connections between
the different sentences and paragraphs
may not be obvious. However, be careful
not to overuse connectors. Using too
many of them, or using them
unnecessarily, can make a piece of
writing sound too heavy and 'artificial'.

Read through the list on page

5 and choose a few connectors
that you would like to use in
your text.

5. Mistake checklist
What follows is a list of the most common mistakes occurring in the
work of students of your level. Use it as a reminder to check your
work efficiently before submitting it.
Text Organisation

Are there at least 2 paragraphs in your text?

Are your sentences too long? If so, try breaking them up to create smaller units by using
commas or starting new sentences.
Are your ideas sequenced logically?
Did you answer all the questions in the task description?


Does each sentence have a subject and a verb?

Did you use simple past verb forms to describe past experiences?
Have you checked spelling and capitalisation?

Have you checked the following areas of language?

 Word order (Subject + Verb)
 Irregular past tenses
 Agreement (Subject + verb; possessive adjectives; singular/plural)
 Articles (the)
 Adjectives do not take s

6.How to send your assignment

You will find all the necessary information on Assignments on page 34 and following in the
Students Guide.
Don't forget to submit the text by clicking
on the send response button


Linking Words and Phrases

Here are some sentences showing some common linkers in context.

Sequencing events in the past
As a young woman, Mexican painter
Frida Kahlo had a bus accident.
After that, she was in great pain
and spent 3 months recovering.
Meanwhile, she developped an
interest in painting.
Afterwards, she had as many as 35
operations as a result of the
accident. Eventually, her leg was
amputated and she died soon after
turning 47.

Giving additional examples and reasons

Mike is too tired to go out today. On top of that,he's got a bad cold.
I think he's ugly . What's more, he is not very nice.
I don't have time to read Shakespeare. Besides, I don't understand him.
She was an outstanding politician. Besides this, she published lots of books.
I am too busy to help you. Moreover, I think you can do it by yourself.

To introduce more detailed information or to make things clearer or

more precise

Nick is working part time in a badly-paid job. He says he doesnt mind about the
money. To tell the truth, I think he is a bit upset about it.
Claire is a vegetarian. In fact, her parents raised her as a vegetarian and she's never
eaten any meat.
He looks Italian but actually, he's Mexican

Giving information which is against normal expectation

Many people dont like driving.

However, driving is my biggest
She hated him. Even so, she

The boy got F's on all his exams. All

the same, the teacher passed him.
I wasn't hungry. Still, the food was
lovely and I ate a lot.

accepted his dinner invitation.

Carrie hated that job with a passion.

Nevertheless, she stayed for ten
We spent hours in the kitchen. All
the same/iIn spite of this, we had
another kitchen disaster.

Giving the bright side or the sad side

Maggie was hit by a car. Fortunately, she was only injured.

He lost his house in the hurricane. Happily, his whole family survived.
She inherited a million dollars. Unfortunately/Sadly she invested the money badly.

Showing inconsistencies or dissimilarities

We stayed in a hotel in Alicante. We liked the room, the pool and the jacuzzi. On
the other hand, the food was a big disappointment.

Falcons fly 200 miles per hour. In contrast, ostriches

can't fly at all.

Stating what is clearly or probably true

He sang and danced on his way to work. Obviously, he liked his job.
He always took his kids to the park. Undoubtedly, he loved them a lot.
He kept closing his eyes while I was speaking. Apparently, he hadn't slept well.
Janice was an only child. Possibly, she was overprotected by her parents.

Showing a direct result

We drove for 8 hours and we were tired and hungry. Therefore, we stopped to rest and
eat lunch.
We spent all our money on the first two days. Consequently, we couldn't eat out for
the rest of the holiday.
He worked seven days a week, twenty hours a day. As a result, he got sick.

adapted from http://www.eslprof.com