In IELTS General Training (GT), you will be required to write a letter of at least 150 words. One of the most important things that you should know about this is that you must choose the correct level of formality for it. Using the correct form of language is essential for getting a high IELTS score in the writing section.
First, you have to understand that in the General Training Writing Test, there are two tasks. In the first task, you have to write a letter and in the second task, you have to write an essay. Keep in mind that in task 2 of the writing section you have to maintain the formal language. On the other hand, in task 1 which includes letter writing, your writing can be formal or informal.
So, let’s learn what is informal and formal letters.
Formal Letters – When you are asked to write a letter to people whom you don’t know or are senior to you (such as job applications, letters of complaint, a letter of request to your manager, or requesting information), then you have to write a formal letter.
Informal Letters – When you are asked to write a letter to people whom you know well (such as invitations to friends, giving advice, news, or congratulations), then you have to write an informal letter.
Samples of Formal and Informal Letters
A. Formal Letter: You ordered an item from an online store and it has arrived damaged
Write a letter to the retailer to complain. In the letter:
– Explain why you are unhappy
– Request a refund
– Make arrangements to return the damaged item
Dear Sir or Madam,
I recently ordered a Hopping Vacuum Cleaner from your online shop, and was disappointed to discover that the bottom portion of the appliance had been smashed during transit.
I would have expected the package to be wrapped more effectively in order to avoid incidents such as this, but there was almost no padding material in the box. I would like you to arrange for the return of the item and to process a full refund as soon as is convenient since the vacuum cleaner was intended to be a gift for an occasion that has already passed.
The order number was AUWS897324, and it was delivered on 29/07/2022.
If you need to book a time for a courier to collect the parcel, you can contact me at this email address, but it must be within the next two weeks as I will be moving to Toronto.
B. Informal Letter: You will be graduating from university and would like to invite your family to the ceremony.
Write a letter of invitation to your parents and:
– Explain that you have completed your studies
– Give details of the event, including time, date and dress code
– Let them know how many tickets they have and who they are for
Dear Mom and Dad,
I received the results from my final semester exams today, I passed my final year. I’m so happy I’ll be graduating in a couple of months. The university has given us a maximum of five tickets per family, so I thought I’d write to you first to let you know the details.
Obviously, I want you two there and bring my sister and brother, too. I thought we could give the other two seats to Uncle and Aunt. I tried to get extra tickets but there is a limited number of seats that can fit in the room.
The ceremony will be held in the main hall of Toronto University on the 5th of January 2023. The thing starts at 2 pm but you have to be there till 6.30 pm for photos. Also, everyone has to be dressed formally.
Do’s and Don’ts in the formal and informal writing styles
|Informal Writing||Formal Writing|
|Practice Colloquial Words/Expressions||Don’t practice Colloquial Words/Expressions|
|Use Contractions||Don’t use Contractions|
|Use Abbreviations||Don’t use Abbreviations|
|Write a letter in reference to the first/second/third person||Always write the letter in reference to the third person|
|You can use Clichés||No Clichés|
|Use Imperative Voice||Do not use Imperative Voice|
|Write in Active Voice||Write in Passive Voice|
|Use Simple and Short Sentences||Use Complex and Long Sentences|
|Use the Exclamation Mark||Don’t use the Exclamation Mark|
For example, in informal writing, if you use words like help, buy, need, get, etc., then in formal writing, you should use assistance, purchase, require, obtain, etc.
We will cover more differences and samples in Part 2. So stay tuned!
In the general training writing test, you need to be able to use both formal and informal language. This requires being able to assess what the letter requires of you and then stay consistent throughout the whole letter. Try to follow the aforementioned tips and practice writing different types of letters on different topics to get a high IELTS score.
If you want to book your IELTS test in advance, visit IELTS AOLCC. We have IELTS Test Centres available in Mississauga, Kingston, London, and Brampton. All our test centres are equipped with Wireless Headsets and other necessary amenities.