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Know The Difference Between Formal & Informal English For Letter Writing in IELTS Test

HomeEducationKnow The Difference Between Formal & Informal English For Letter Writing in IELTS Test

If you are preparing for IELTS General Training Exam, then you must be aware that the IELTS General Writing two tasks.

  • Task 1: Letter Writing
  • Task 2: Essay Writing

Task 2 in Writing Module is always formal writing, whereas Task 1 can be either informal, semi-formal or formal writing.

This post is specifically dedicated to those IELTS aspirants who are trying to comprehend difference between formal and informal letter.

What is Formal and Informal Letter?

For Writing Task 1, you need to decide the writing style in reliance on the type of question asked – Formal or Informal letter. The instructions demand either of the following things –

  • If you are asked to write to someone you know, you have to respond in form of an informal letter.
  • On the contrary, if you are asked to write to someone you don’t know, you must respond in form of a formal letter.

The levels of formality in English Language differs depending on the style you choose to write. The use of English will not be the same for Informal as well as Formal Writing.

Quick look on Do’s & Don’ts of writing Informal and Formal Letters in IELTS General Writing

Use Colloquial Words/ExpressionsNo Colloquial Words/Expressions
Use ContractionsNo Contractions
Use AbbreviationsNo Abbreviations
Write in reference to first/second/third personWrite in reference to third person
Use ClichésNo Clichés
Use Imperative VoiceAvoid use of Imperative Voice
Use Active VoiceUse Passive Voice
Short and Simple SentencesLong and Complex Sentences
Use Exclamation MarkAvoid use of Exclamation Mark

Let’s understand these points with appropriate example.

1. Vocabulary Makes the Real Difference between Formal & Informal English

Words that we use to convey message in our day-to-day conversation are informal while the words used in books, contracts, or business letters are formal. Be careful in using them while writing informal and formal letters.

For example,

Informal: Why don’t you pop around my house?

Formal: I would like to invite you to visit my house.

Here are some more words that you can take into consideration while writing letters.


Note: Inappropriate use of these words will reduce your Band Score.

2. One Style of writing that accepts Abbreviations/Contractions and One Not

In Informal Writing, you can use abbreviations as well as contractions. But, you cannot use them in case of Formal Writing.

For example,

Informal: I’m waiting for you.

Formal: I am waiting for you.

Informal: Turn on the TV.

Formal: Kindly turn on the television.

Thus, you must adapt your writing in such a way that it suits the style of the letter.

3. Be Careful with the Emphasizing words

When you want to make something clear or draw attention of the reader, you can use emphasizing words. Again, depending on the style of writing, these words vary.

Have a look at some of the below listed words and make their appropriate use while drafting your letter.

Lots of/A lot ofMany/Much
Heaps ofA number of

4. Appropriate Use of Phrasal Verbs is Important

To avoid over-formal language, we make use of phrasal verbs. But what happens when you need to write a formal letter? Though we think of phrasal verbs as means of conveying in an informal way, there are many of them that can be appropriately used for formal writing.

Well, here is an example.

Informal: Researchers did a survey.

Formal: Researchers carried out a survey.

Some more phrasal verbs that you can use for Formal Writing are –

Adhere toEnter on
Ascribe toPertain to
Cast downProvide against
Carry outPoint out
Brought aboutComplain of

Don’t ignore the use of phrasal verbs while writing Formal letters. These phrasal verbs contribute to an authoritative style and hence may impress the reader.

5. Sentence Structure differs based on Formal & Informal Writing

In an Informal Letter Writing, you can write short and simple sentences. Sometimes, you can even make points so that the reader gets a crisp idea.

Whereas, in Formal Letter writing, sentences are long and complicated. You need to be as thorough as possible with your response. Each point you write needs to be elaborated.

For example,

Informal: Went to Barcelona for the weekend. Lots to tell you.

Formal: We went to Barcelona for the weekend. We have many things to tell you.

6. Letter Expressions Vary depending on The Style of Writing

Informal letters begin with Dear + Name of the Receiver and ends with Best Wishes/Regards + Your First Name.

Formal letters begin with Dear Sir/Madam and ends with Yours Faithfully + Full Name.


These are some of the common differences that you must take care of while writing an informal or formal letter. Practise writing letters as many as you can before you appear for the actual IELTS Exam.

To improve the quality of your letter writing, you could opt for the IELTS Writing Correction Service. Our IELTS experts will review your letters and give your guidance accordingly.

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