With email and WhatsApp being the order of the day, the joys of letter-writing are fading into obscurity. But we’re still required to know how to write them as part of English studies. It’s also great fun to exchange letters. Many young people these days are going back to the idea of having pen-pals because it’s so much fun to receive a letter in the post! Here’s how to do it properly…
The correct format for an informal letter is very simple:
- Writer’s Address
- Introduction Paragraph
- The Body of the Letter
The sender’s address is normally placed at the top on the right-hand side. Although the address is on the envelope it’s important to have it on the letter too. It goes in the following format:
House number and street name
Town or city
Country (if applicable)
The date should be included just below your own address, on the right-hand side of your paper.
Remember that the correct way to note down dates in British English is:
Day Month, Year or: 19 January 2019
You will most likely start with ‘Dear [addressee’s first name]’. However, if you’re writing, an informal letter to a business contact or an elderly relative, you may want to refer to them as ‘Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms [last name]’.
The abbreviation ‘Mrs’ is used to refer to a married woman, ‘Miss’ is used to refer to a single woman and ‘Ms’ can be used if you’re not sure of the recipient’s marital status. For men, ‘Mr’ is always the appropriate abbreviation.
The introduction should lay out the general reason for writing the letter. The tone of informal letters is informal and so the language is friendly and personal. One should however still avoid slang and colloquial language; contradictions, abbreviations and acronyms; emoji’s and other online innovations as well as foul language.
The letter should maintain a friendly tone, but you have to adjust the language according to who you are writing to. With a friend, you can afford to be very casual and flippant even but if you are writing to an elder relative, you must be more respectful and considerate.
One way to determine the tonality of your letter is to remember how you talk to the person in a conversation, then apply the same syntax and sentiments to the letter.
There is no one way to sign off informal letters. Since they do not follow a strict format, you may sign off as you please. Some commonly used phrases are
- Lots of Love
- Best Wishes,
- Kind Regards,
Pick the one that best suits the occasion and then simply sign your name below the greeting.
To help you in your studies, or in putting together your next letter, here is an example to guide you: