Sarah: Hey Sarah and Jack here. Welcome to Everyday English!
Sarah: Jack, what are you doing?
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Read more: English letter writing to friend
Jack: Hang on a second. I’m just sending an email to a friend.
Sarah: Well today we’re going to give you some tips for writing informal letters and emails.
Type Informal letters and emails Formal letters and emails Writing to
-People we don’t know
-Bosses or managers
Sarah: Informal letters and emails are the ones that we’d write to people that we knew well. For example, our friends or our family members. Whereas formal letters and emails are ones that we might send to a stranger or to our bosses.
Sarah: The language that we use in informal letters is more casual and relaxed. It’s language that’s more similar to the way that we speak. The structure of an informal letter is also more relaxed. Although we do have some tips that you can follow to make your informal letter or email clear and easy to understand.
Sarah: Shall we get started?
Jack: I’m going to write an email to my friend, Nic. Now the first thing I have to do is think of a greeting. It’s an informal email so I can start with a more casual greeting.
Jack: I could say:
- Dear Nic,
- To Nic,
- Hi Nic,
- Hey Nic!
Jack: I can use an exclamation point here to show that I’m excited to write to him but that’s something I wouldn’t do in a formal email or letter. I can also use Nic’s first name without a title. I could follow that with a friendly expression like:
- How are you?
- How are you going?
- I hope you’re well.
Jack: Or if I’m responding to an email that he’s sent me, I could say:
- Thanks for your email.
- It was great to hear from you.
- I enjoyed reading your email.
Jack: I’m going to divide my email into short paragraphs to make it easier to read. Now I can start the main body of my email. Here I have to think about why I’m sending the email. It could be to respond to some news that my friend has told me which could be happy or sad. For example:
I’m so happy to hear about your engagement.
I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been sick.
Jack: Or to say congratulations or thank you. It could be to give Nic some news of my own. For example:
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I wanted you to know that I’m coming to visit you next week.
Jack: I could be writing to make an apology. For example:
I was really sorry to miss your party but I had to work.
Jack: Or it could be to send an invitation or respond to an invitation. For example:
I’m having a birthday party and I would love you to come.
Thank you so much for your invitation. I would love to come.
Or it could be to make a request or ask for a favour.
Sarah: There are different levels of politeness that you can use when making a request. The most polite way to ask is indirectly. For example:
I would be grateful if you could send me the photos you took at the wedding.
I would really appreciate it if you could send me the photos you took at the wedding.
Sarah: Another polite way to ask is to write:
Could you please send me the photos?
Could you send me the photos, please?
Sarah: Then there’s a polite but more direct way. For example:
- Could you send me the photos?
- Can you send me the photos?
Sarah: The most direct way is to say:
Please send me the photos.
Send me the photos, please.
Sarah: Now how polite you want to be depends on who you’re writing to and what you’re asking for.
Jack: Sometimes you can finish up your letter by making a suggestion or recommendation to your friend. For example:
- You might want to bring something to drink.
- If you like, we can visit a winery while you’re here.
Jack: Then you can finish off your letter. There are lots of options here. For example:
- Give my love/regards to your family.
- Say hello to the kids for me.
- Thanks again for your help.
- I hope to hear from you soon.
- See you soon.
- Write soon.
- Keep in touch!
Jack: Then you can sign off with:
- Lots of love,
- Best wishes,
- All the best,
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Sarah: They’re some suggestions but what you write in an informal letter is really up to you. Remember, because it’s informal you can use more contractions like:
Contracted form Full form It’s It is Isn’t Is not It’ll It will Won’t Will not Can’t Cannot
Sarah: You can also use more idioms and colloquialisms. For example:
- I was feeling under the weather.
- The party was awesome.
Sarah: So have you finished your email?
Jack: All done.
Sarah: Let’s have a look.
How are you going?
Thanks for sending me the photos from your holiday. It looks like you had a great time!
How’re Leah and the kids? And what about your dog, Snoopy? He was just a puppy last time I saw him.
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to your birthday party. I would have loved to come but I was really busy at work and it was hard to get away. Thanks for the invitation though.
Would it be possible for you to send me some photos from the party? I’d love to see how it all went.
I can’t wait until you come to visit in March. Do you know how long you’ll be staying? I’ll try to think of some fun things to do.
See you soon.
All the best,
P.S. Sarah says hello
Sarah: Aww… that’s nice. By the way PS stands for postscriptum which is Latin for “written after”. We sometimes use it to add something to a letter after it’s been written and signed.
Jack: Well I hope that’s helped to give you some tips on writing an informal email.
Sarah: Have a go at writing to your friends in English. It’s a great way to practise and because they’re your friends, it’s OK if you get something wrong.
Jack: That’s it from us for now.
Sarah: See you later.
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