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

Today you’ll learn how formal IELTS Writing is different than academic writing.

Recently, a 3 Keys student asked:

I’d like to ask, in Writing Task 1 for the formal letters, can we use the contraction forms for I am, ‘I’m’? As per my knowledge, contractions are used only in informal letters. Please clear up my doubts.

Yes, in formal letters you can use contractions. It’s not the same as an academic essay.

In Writing Task 2, you should not use contractions, but, honestly, if you do it won’t kill your score either.

For the formal letter, nailing the formal tone is in the vocabulary and sentence structure.

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So, you can say, ‘I’m writing to express my annoyance‘. That’s still formal sounding.

Another way it’s different is that in academic essays in real life, you will never say ‘I‘ or ‘you‘.

However, in your letters, you have to put yourself in the letter by using these pronouns.

In Task 2, you must say ‘I’, because you have to give your personal opinion. However, you still shouldn’t use ‘you’.

To make your formal letter have a formal tone, you will use exactly the same type of vocabulary as your Task 2 essay.

You also must use the same linking phrases, like ‘however‘ and ‘nevertheless‘.

Did today’s advice surprise you?

Ask us your IELTS questions in the comments section below!

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