Formal letters

  • Start the letter with Dear and the person’s title or family name. Use Mr for men, Mrs for married women and Miss for single women.
  • If we don’t know the name of the person we are writing to, we start the letter Dear Sir or Madam.
  • In the first paragraph we usually say why we are writing.
  • In the next paragraph we write the important information.
  • To ask for something we can set phrases such as Could you please…, or I would be grateful if you could…
  • If we want a reply, we can write I look forward to hearing from you. After the final paragraph.
  • Do not use colloquial language or short forms.
  • We finish the letter with Yours sincerely if we used the person’s name at the start, or Yours faithfully if we didn’t. We write our full name.

Use formal language

To complain:
  • I am writing in order to complain about…
  • I was unsatisfied with…
  • In the first place…
  • I suggest that you…
  • My main criticism is…
  • I am afraid to say…
To request and give information:
  • I am writing to inquire…
  • I would like to know…
  • Do you think you could tell me…
  • The first thing I would like to inform you of is…
To suggest:
  • I am writing to suggest…
  • I would like to suggest…
  • A further possibility is…

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to apply for the holiday job in your restaurant, which I saw advertised in the Evening News last week.

I am seventeen years old, a student at Newton’s College, and have lots of experience working in restaurants and cafes. Last summer I worked as a waiter in Mario’s Café and recently I have been working at the Bay Loaf in High Street. I am hard-working, honest and have good customer service skills.

I would be grateful if you could send me some more details about the job and I would be happy to discuss my application with you. I am enclosing my CV.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Tina White

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to you about a recent visit I made to your Museum on 9th July. I was particularly interested to come to the Museum as I am studying science in school and I know you have some special exhibitions.

The “recycling plastics” exhibition was very interesting because it showed what happens to plastic after we throw it away and how it is turned into other products.

However, I was very disappointed with the show on travelling in space. It contained very little information and was boring because it had too many technical details in it and not enough on what it is like to travel in space.

Furthermore, I found the restaurant very expensive. I think you should have cheaper café or a small shop selling snacks.

I hope you will consider my points seriously and improve the Museum for the visitors.

Yours faithfully,

Daniel Brown

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to enquire about the holiday apartments on Costa Bravo advertised in Beach Holidays magazine this month.

In your advertisement you mention that all the apartments are self catering. Would you mind telling me what cooking facilities are available in the kitchen? Could you also tell me if cooking utensils are provided?

I noticed from your advertisement that the beach is very near. However, I would also like to know if the apartments have a swimming pool as we will be travelling with small children.

I would be very grateful if you could send me a list of apartments and prices with a view to making a reservation in August.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Catherine Archer


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