How to Write a Formal Email

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 emailformal email
family members
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:

  1. Greetings

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.

2. Introduction

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)

3. Body

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.

5. Goodbye

Here you can find a list with the most common phrases to end a formal email:

  • Sincerely,
  • 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)
  • Regards,

6. Signature

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.
Language School

Come and study English at our school!
Summer and winter intensive courses
Highly experienced teachers
One month courses for all levels
Reasonable prices
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)
Professional instructors
Morning and afternoon classes
All levels, beginners to advanced
Small groups or private lessons

For more information email Robert Anderson at info@academy.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


Advantages and Disadvantages Essay

for B1 Preliminary Cambridge Test/ IELTS


An essay is a written piece where you can present an idea, propose an argument, express your emotions or initiate a debate.

In an advantages and disadvantages essay your task is to describe the positive and the negative sides of a specific topic. You must include examples and reasons to support your ideas. Sometimes you will also be asked to give your opinion. You can include your personal opinion in the introduction and conclusion of the essay.

The typical structure for an advantages and disadvantages essay is the following:

Paragraph 1: Introduction
  • Start your introduction with a sentence that paraphrases the question you were given
  • Add a sentence where you include the main ideas that you will talk about
  • Give your opinion (if required)
Paragraph 2: Advantages
  • Write a sentence where you summarize the main idea of the paragraph. In this paragraph you must mention the advantages.
  • Next write a sentence where you explain the advantages.
  • Finally you explain the consequence or result of advantages by giving an example.
Paragraph 3: Disadvantages

(This paragraph is similar to paragraph 2, but here you will talk about the disadvantages)

  • Write a sentence where you summarize the main idea of the paragraph. In this paragraph you must mention the disadvantages.
  • Explain the disadvantages.
  • Give examples of the disadvantages.
Paragraph 4: Conclusion
  • Summarize your ideas
  • Paraphrase your opinion (if required)

Advantages and disadvantages of traveling by plane

Nowadays, a lot of people prefer to travel by plane when they go to another country. However, air travel has both pros and drawbacks. Let’s examine some of these here.

One of the main advantages of traveling by plane is that it is much faster than any other form of transport. For example, you can fly from Toronto to New York in 2 hours, whereas by car, it would take more than 7 hours. Another advantage is that flying is more comfortable and less tiring because you can sleep on a long flight. You can also watch movies or read. Finally, it is safer. More people die in car accidents than in the air.

On the other hand, traveling by plane also has some disadvantages. To start with, it can be quite expensive, especially if you want to travel in the comfort of First Class or Business Class. What is more, flights are often delayed, and this means you may have to spend a long time waiting in the airport or miss connecting flights. In addition, you may arrive in New York while your suitcase has gone to Paris.

To sum up, the airplane is a great invention, but it does have some drawbacks. If it was cheaper, it would be better. Still, in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. If we didn’t have planes, it would be very difficult to travel to distant places.

Below there is a template that can help you write your advantages and disadvantages essays.
Template for an advantages and disadvantages essay

Useful language: Linking phrases

To list advantages/ disadvantages
  • the main advantage is…
  • the main disadvantage is …
  • another advantage is …
To add more point to the same topic
  • In addition, …
  • Furthermore, …
  • What is more …
To introduce an example:
  • For instance …
  • For example …
To make contrasting points
  • However, …
  • In spite (of the fact) …
  • Although …
  • On the other hand …
To give a reason
  • Because + clause …
  • Because of + noun …
To introduce the conclusion
  • In conclusion, …
  • To sum up, …
Watch the following video to learn more vocabulary to talk about advantages and disadvantages