FCE – formal letter or email
Paper 2 Part 1 – Formal letter or email
Formal letters may be written to an individual or to an organisation. The purpose may be, for example,
- to apply for part-time or vacation work (application letter)
- to apply for study or scholarship opportunity (application letter)
- to complain about something (complaint letter)
- to make suggestions about something
- to request information (enquiry letter)
How to write formal letters
- (A) If you know the name of the person you are writing to use the title (Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms) and the surname only. If you are writing to a woman and do not know if she uses Mrs or Miss, you can use Ms, which is for married and single women.
Examples: “Dear Mr Simpson,” / “Dear Mrs Flanders,” / “Dear Miss Skinner,” / “Dear Ms Van Houten,”
- (B) If you do not know the name of the recipient of the letter begin with “Dear Sir,” / “Dear Madam,” (if you know you are writing to a man or a woman) or “Dear Sir or Madam,” (if you do not know the sex of the person you are writing to).
The first paragraph states the reason(s) for writing and, if needed, what you are responding to (an advert, a prospectus…). In addition, an opening paragraph is needed to make reference to previous correspondence.
Useful phrases for the opening
- I would like to apply for one of the scholarships I saw advertised in your prospectus. (applying for a scholarship)
- I am looking for an outdoor work during the summer holidays and I would like to apply for the position of hotel lifguard assistant which I say advertised in my university’s student newspaper. (applying for a job)
- I have seen your advertisement for the post / vacancy / job of… advertised in the local newspaper on 16 June. I am writing because I would like to apply for the job. (applying for a job)
- I am the secretary of my college Science Club. I saw your advertisement for the exhibition “The Next 100 Years” and I am interested in organising a group visit. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about it. (requesting information)
- I am writing (in order) to complain about the advertisement for your new game. Having just played the game, I realise that the advertisement is misleading. (complaint letter)
- I am writing with regard to … I am writing with reference to… I am writing in response to…
- Thank you for /your letter of 9 May… /for your letter regarding…
- In reply tor your letter of 8 May, …
[2.2], [2. .] Main content
The rest of the body will be organized in paragraphs: that will make reading easier and the effect on the target reader will be better. For example, an application letter may have this layout and paragraphing:
- Salutation or greeting
- #1 Opening (first paragraph)
- #2 About you (age, where you live, education-training and/or work experience relevant to the job, languages …)
- #3 Reasons for applying (why you are suitable for the job)
- #4 Conclusion (availability for interview, further questions, … – if necessary)
- Final salutation
- Name and surname
Other useful phrases
- Could you tell me… ?
- I would be grateful if you could …
- I would be interested in having more details about…
- I would like to know if/when/when/…
- I would like information on…
- Do you know if…?
- I would like to complain about + noun or -ing
- … is not what I expected / was expecting
- I am not satisfied with…
- I would be grateful if my money was refunded / if you could give me a refund
The end of your letter is as important as the beginning. You usually state what you would like the recipient to do, make a reference to a future event, offer to help…
- I look forward to hearing from you soon / I look forward to receiving your reply
- I look forward to receiving a full refund (in a complaint letter)
- I would like to know what you are going to do about this situation (in a complaint letter)
- I would like to thank you in advance for this information (in a enquiry letter -requesting information)
- If you require/Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me/feel free to contact me.
 Final salutation
Depending on how you started your letter (See above), you will end your letter with
- (A) Yours sincerely,
- (B) Yours faithfully,
 Sign your name and then print your name clearly underneath on another new line
Letter of application – useful phrases
I am writing to apply for a/the job of ….. which I saw advertised in “The Guardian” newspaper.
I am 26 years old and at the moment I am studying … at …. Having studied English for over seven years I am a fluent speaker of the language. My qualifications also include Proficiency certificates in both French and German. As far as experience is concerned, I have worked as …………. for ……….. As for my character, people tell me I am ……………
I feel I would be suitable for this job because ………… . This will give me the opportunity to ….. . I would also like the chance to….
I look forward to hearing from you.