Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll learn how to start your General letter for a 7+ on your IELTS Exam.

We had a question from a 3 Keys’ student:

I have two questions about General Writing Task 1. Isn’t it natural to use ‘To Mr. ABC‘ instead of ‘Dear Mr. ABC‘ when I write a letter to whom I don’t know? I think ‘Dear’ is a bit more informal than ‘To.’

When Lindsay begins a formal letter, she just uses the name. Jessica likes to use the phrase ‘To Whom This May Concern.’

If you don’t have a name, you could use Jessica’s phrase, or ‘Dear Sir/Madam‘.

‘Dear’ is standard and is used in formal letters.

However, IELTS tells you how to start your General letter– so don’t worry!

Also, this is one little detail to not worry about, because this won’t affect your score. This salutation doesn’t even count as part of your word count.

His second question is:

I know ‘Mr. ABC’ with a period is right, is ‘Mr’ with no period also right?

Both are correct!


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‘Mr.’ with a period is American, and ‘Mr’ without a period is British.

As long as you are correct in either American or British English, you’re fine on IELTS.

Formal phrase to begin letters:

Get to the point immediately.

I’m writing regarding…

Informal phrase to begin letters:

Hey, it’s been ages since we hung out!

Remember- it’s a short letter. You need all 150-180 words to address the bullet points. So, only use one sentence to open and one sentence to close the letter.

A huge part of your score is the tone of your letter, so get into the informal or formal mood right away with the above phrases.

A good goal for the rest of your letter is to provide at least two specific details per bullet point.

What do you think of today’s advice?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!


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