Now with additional examples and further reading!
In this quick tutorial video, we’re going to look at some of the tips regarding IELTS General Task 1.
Letter writing is as much about conveying an idea as speaking, but in a more formal manner for which a record then exists. This can be reviewed and referred back to later in order to clarify exactly what was said and reduce conflict.
We’re going to talk about at some phrases and look at the structure of your writing and how to use this to accurately convey your idea! We will also go through some IELTS Writing Task 1 samples. There’s a link for the samples at the end!
You’re lucky if you’re doing IELTS Task 1 General because personally I think that this is the easiest part of the writing exam – so much easier than the Academic Task! Why? Basically, you’ve got the structure already laid out for you.
Let’s say for example, we’re writing a Letter of Complaint to a company, you just have 3 points to write about to completely assemble your idea:
- What happened – the event that resulted in your complaint.
- What upset you – the reason you are personally offended by the event.
- What you expect to be done – how the company can resolve this negative situation.
Now write your letter using this structure. Really simple. Just go write three or four sentences about the first bullet point, do the same for the second and third. Piece of cake!
Using a unique set of phrases and sentences is expected – and you’re going to get points by using these expressions. Plus, if you learn the expressions correctly, you don’t have to worry about the grammar when you use it. It’s just like a case of copy-pasting and adapting them so it’s really quite simple.
Now, go grab a pen and write them down! This will help you memorize them and learn them a little bit better. After that, you’ve got your list and you can already start using them in the letters you’ll be writing.
Instructions: Write a letter to Mr. Jones, the managing director of X-company.
Your Answer should include the name:
Dear Mr. Jones, I am writing…
If you don’t have the name, don’t invent! Just say:
- We should use a very clear opening sentence which explains directly what you want to communicate. We can start with something like:
- I’m writing with regards to a recent product I bought.
- I’m writing on behalf of my employee.
- I’m writing to…
Then, place what’s necessary. If you’re asking for help, you could just say:
- “Could you please…”
- or, “I would like it if you could…”
The important thing here is to use the modal verbs. Take a look at some of the other expressions we can use:
■ If you’re asking for information:
“I am writing to inquire about…”
“I am enquiring with regard to…”
■ If you’re apologizing:
“I am sorry that…”
“My apologies, but…”
■ if you’re writing on behalf of the company::
“We deeply regret your experience…”
“We would like to offer our assistance…”
■ If you’re writing or responding to a job advertisement:
“I am writing in relation to a job advertised on Johnson&Johnson website, 23rd of May.”
“I am writing to apply for the position of…”
These are some set phrases that you simply must use. You’ll pick up points not only for using the appropriate language but when it’s also grammatically perfect!
■ If you’re writing a complaint letter, lots of complaint:
“I am not happy about…”
“I feel your service was substandard when I visited…”
or (more formal), “I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with…”
You can go from there. Easy, right?!
Closing A Letter
It’s always polite to include a little sign-off at the end of your communications:
“If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.”
or, “I am looking forward to your reply.”
or, “I am looking forward to your comments on the matter.”
– Make a list of all these phrases
– Write them all down and memorise them
– Start using them and you’ll see that General Writing Task 1 is really not that difficult!
Still want more? Try these pages:
1. In a formal essay or letter, use “will” instead of “going to.”
This is important because “going to” is used more in your spoken English whereas “will” is more formal and is mostly used in business.
2. DO NOT use contractions.
Isn’t, ain’t, won’t couldn’t – these are more for your spoken English as well. So, once you’re done, read through your essay and just make sure that you did not use a contraction.
3. Use modal verbs if you’re asking for help, information or for advice
They sound more polite. You don’t say “I want information regarding product x,y,z.” A big NO. Instead, write down “I would like some information regarding product x,y,z.”
4. If you are writing an informal essay or letter, make sure you use familiar words.
So, if you get a task asking you to “Write a letter to your friend asking for information about a course or program being offered at a local university.” This is where you can use lots of familiar words, lots of contractions and use different tenses – including “going to” for example.
So you can just say:
“Hey, Maria! How’s things at your end? Hope all’s good.”
“I’m planning to come up to Avedine next year and I was wondering if you’ve got any information about the university course xxx?”
Basically, you can just write it as though you’re having a conversation with the person in front of you. So, don’t worry about the contractions! Now, when you’re closing the letter we can use:
“Keep in touch! All the best, Ben”
And you can even put the P.S.
“P.S. Say “Hi!” to Barry for me.”
Just show the examiner that you know how to write an informal letter and you are comfortable using the native English expressions.
For more on this see:
Now, if you want the samples, you can sign up to ieltspodcast.com and you’ll find a PDF with lots of letter writing samples and lists of useful phrases.