for the B1 Cambridge test (PET) or the General Training IELTS test
Formal emails are the ones that people write to people they don’t know well. The language used in this type of emails is more formal and polite.
|informal email||formal email|
people we know well
|people we don’t know|
bosses or managers
doctors, teachers and professors
Formal emails have a standard format, so they must include the following parts:
We say hi to the other person. Depending on the kind of relationship we have with the person we are writing to, we can use the following greetings:
- Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name,
For example: Dear Mr. Smith,
- Dear Sir/ Madam,
If you don’t know the name and last name of the recipient
- To whom it may concern
This is a more generic formulaic expression.
In this part we must indicate briefly and clearly the reason for writing. It should be consistent with the subject of the email. We can use the following introductory phrases:
- I’m writing with regards to … (email subject)
- I’m writing to … (ask, inform, request, send, confirm, etc)
- I’m writing in reference to … (email subject, e.g. a job post, an advertisement, a website, etc)
There are no formulaic expressions or conventional formulas for the body of the text because the information that we share in the body of the email varies according to what you need to communicate.
There is one general rule for this part: it should be divided into short paragraphs.
4. Closing paragraph
There are various ways to end your email. The most common formulaic expressions are the following:
- I look forward to hearing from you soon / at your earliest convenient time.
- Thank you in advance.
- Thank you for your attention.
- If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Please let me know if you have any questions.
Here you can find a list with the most common phrases to end a formal email:
- Kind regards,
- Best regards,
- Yours faithfully, (only if you began your email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’)
- Yours sincerely, (only if began your email with ‘Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name)
We write our full name (name + last name)
Now that you know which parts should be included in a formal email, let’s see an example:
Ana has read an ad about some English courses in a school website.
- She is 23 years old. She has graduated from college.
- She wants to take an IELTS course in July.
- She needs to get information about dates and prices.
- She wants to stay with a host family.
- She wants a room for her and her friend.
Come and study English at our school!
Summer and winter intensive courses
Highly experienced teachers
One month courses for all levels
Accommodation with host families
Pro tips for writing formal emails
- Use the standard format that English speakers use to write formal emails.
- Use formulaic expressions.
- DO NOT use contractions (I’m, I’ve, I’d, don’t, can’t, won’t, etc.).
- Use formal words and indirect questions (e.g. I was wondering if …/ I would be grateful if you …)
- Don’t forget to START your email by saying why are you writing or what you are
Time to practice
The best way to improve your writing is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.
Write an email to get more information about the following course:
|Computer courses in Canada|
One -or two-week courses in different parts of Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax)
Morning and afternoon classes
All levels, beginners to advanced
Small groups or private lessons
For more information email Robert Anderson at email@example.com
Don’t forget to explain why you are writing and give some personal information
Ask your questions, and ask them to send you information