Although e- mails and instant messaging have become the communication of choice for a lot of people nowadays, it's hard not to feel nostalgic about a time when I would sit waiting for the postman to bring me a hand- written letter from a pen friend. I used to spend a lot of time pouring over my letters and trying to write back, whilst making them interesting and witty.
Nowadays, social networking sites have put an end to this activity, as it has become so easy to just "meet" people from other cultures online. Children have lost the feeling of accomplishment we used to get when writing a letter by hand. Granted that e-mails are obviously more efficient, as you get an answer practically immediately, but in an age where LOL and BRB are part of our everyday language, writing letters feels- whether electronically or by using pen and paper
When writing letters, it is important to remember who the reader will be - a friend, family member or potential employer, what points you would like to write about, and any other information you would think is important for the person to know. This week we shall take a look at informal letter writing, and next week we'll publish an article about formal letters.
We should first look at the format and style of writing an informal letter. In informal letter writing, we used contracted forms of verbs (I'm, I'll etc.), sentences and questions should be short and uncomplicated and simple linking structures should be used.
- Some simple linking structures: "But" "because" "Also," "Then," "However," etc.
Your address should be written on the top right- hand side of the page, with the date right underneath. After skipping a line, the salutation would go on the left-hand side of the page. This would normally start with either "Dear..." or "Hi..."- with no comma afterwards. The start of the next paragraph, which would be the start of your letter, should be indented slightly to the right. Over here you would greet the person you are writing to- "It was great to hear from you" or "Thank you for your letter, it was lovely to hear from you" and maybe offer a comment about the reason that the person wrote to you- for example: if a person wrote to tell you about passing an important test, or maybe getting a promotion at work, you would offer congratulations "Well done on passing your test/ getting that promotion.." and maybe comment further about it.
In the second paragraph, you might offer answers to questions the person might have asked you in their letter- maybe asking for an opinion or advice.
- Expressions used when giving an opinion: "In my opinion...", "It's my belief that...", "I definitely think that ..."
- Expressions used when giving advice or making a suggestion: "if I were you I would....", "Why not try...", "I suggest that...", "You should perhaps..."
You would then maybe ask some questions back- maybe for more information and also write something about what has been happening in your life too.
After writing all that you need to say, you should let the reader know that the letter is coming to a close. You could use expressions such as "I look forward to hearing back from you soon" or simply "Hope to hear from you soon" and also "Keep in touch". When ending a letter you could sign off with a variety of expressions... obviously keep in mind the person you are writing to.
- "Best Wishes," "Sincerely (yours)," "(Lots of) Love," "(Best) Regards," etc.
P.S. : (post script) used when a person wants to add more information to a letter after they have already signed off
R.S.V.P : (French expression meaning "please reply") used when extending an invitation and therefore you want a response to it.
Courtesy of, Elanguest Language School
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