Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is a semi-formal general training letter?

You know about formal letters. These are written to people you do not know, perhaps of a professional nature, or, often, as a letter of complaint or inquiry.

Informal letters, in contrast, are to friends.

Much of your Task Achievement score depends on understanding the difference in these types of communication.

You must strike the right tone, either formal or informal, through your structures, and, mostly, through the vocabulary you choose.

However, what if the question requires you to write a letter which falls between formal and informal?

These are letters to acquaintances, or people you know, but not well.

So, you do not have to introduce yourself by name, as you do in formal letters, as this person already knows you.

A good example of this is when writing to a manager or work colleague.

The topic of the letter will be more on the formal side, however, as it is usually focused on a problem to solve, like a complaint letter of sorts.

IELTS will tell you how to begin the letter, by writing Dear Mr./Mrs. Surname,.


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You should sign off your letter by saying, Regards. Do not say Yours Truly, as this is too personal.

An example semi-formal letter question:

You are working on a project with a work colleague. However, you do not think you will finish in time to meet the deadline.

In your letter:

  • Describe details of the project
  • Say why you cannot meet the deadline
  • Suggest a new deadline

What vocabulary should you use in a semi-formal letter?

Well, mostly formal language, with a few idioms thrown in to make the tone less serious.

So, in sum, the only differences in a semi-formal letter are:

  • Do not introduce yourself by name, as the person already knows you
  • Use mostly formal language
  • Use a couple phrases that are on the informal side

Do you have any questions about the General Training Task 1 letter?

Ask us in the comments section below!


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