IELTS General Task: How to write an informal letter (idioms and phrases)

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In this tutorial, we cover some extremely useful vocabulary to use for IELTS writing task, including phrases and idioms.

The idioms are also valuable for IELTS speaking, as are the phrases to use in your IELTS exam.

We also look at how to construct the letter, what to check got after you have finished and when is the best time to test your new phrases and knowledge. Click here to see some examples of the letters for general IELTS.

How to write an informal letter

Write a letter to a friend about a recent holiday.

  • You must address your friend using the correct punctuation so: Dear Amy,
  • You must plan your letter so it is interesting and grabs your readers/friends attention
  • It is a good idea to use idioms and add a sense of humour

Phrases to use as an introduction

  • How are you? How’s life treating you?
  • Sorry, I haven’t been in touch. I was overwhelmed with exams.
  • Let me tell you about my holiday in Greece, it was fabulous.

Activity: Now write an introduction

Don’t forget to use the keywords in the previous slide.

Idioms you can use in your letter:

  • Thrilled to bits / over the moon
  • I have a mind like a sieve
  • It cost an arm and a leg
  • It’s driving me up the wall

Paragraph 1 – Using fillers to explain

  • You will never guess what I went through last week
  • To be honest, it was an excellent holiday……….
  • When you hear this, it will keep you on the edge of your seat

Paragraph 2 – More info about the holiday

More vocabulary!

Use this vocabulary to help:

  • Eye-opening
  • Spectacular
  • Stunning

Paragraph 3 – What's next

Talk about what your plans are.

Phrases such as:

  • planning on travelling
  • planning on studying
  • planning on learning a new sport

Last paragraph - Phrases

  • It was great catching up
  • I must go now as my mum has bombarded me with errands
  • Let’s get together soon over a coffee


  • Check you have covered everything in the question!
  • Check your punctuation and spelling
  • Check you have explained your point
  • Check you have a range of idioms

Audio tutorial

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