In our last blog post we talked about writing a formal letter. Today we help you to write an informal letter by looking at the differences between formal and informal letters and showing you an example of an informal letter.
Formal letters are addressed to people you don’t know – they are appropriate for job applications, letters to newspapers etc. Informal letters, on the other hand, are written to people you know well – friends and family.
Let’s start with an example of an informal letter:
Your friend is considering taking part in a clinical trial to earn some money. Write a letter to your friend to express your opinion.
When I saw on Twitter that you’re thinking about getting involved in a clinical trial to make some money I was totally gobsmacked! Please don’t do it! I know that money is tight and you’re having problems paying your rent but letting somebody pump your body with an untested drug is really stupid.
You’re one of my closest and oldest friends and I can’t just sit back and watch you do this without saying something. Why are you risking your health for a little bit of money? I know you think it’s easy money but it isn’t! Think what the long-term consequences could be for your health! Can’t you just get a job like everybody else? I saw that there were a few people on Twitter encouraging you, but please don’t listen. They don’t care about you; they just want to be entertained at your expense. They will soon change their tune if things go wrong.
Do you know what you’re getting yourself into? These drugs have NEVER been tested on people, only mice. You will be a human mouse. They even make you sign a contract so you can’t sue them if things go wrong. Does that really seem safe to you? “Just sign here and then I’ll stick this giant needle into your arm.” Sounds great doesn’t it?
What about the side effects too? Did you think about those? You could have a heart attack or anything. What about your family and your friends? How are they going to feel when you’ve made yourself ill for a bit of money? It just isn’t worth the risk is it? You feel as fit as a fiddle now, but will you when the clinic has finished with you?
Please just find a job. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting and the money doesn’t seem as ‘easy’ but it’s much better than the alternative. Work in a bar or a club and then you will just get paid to socialise! Seriously, think long and hard before you decide. Long-term health risk vs. quick money – I know what I would choose! Give me a ring to talk about it.
See you soon,
The language used in informal letters differs from formal letters. In informal letters we use:
- Colloquial words/expressions
Everyday language which includes slang and regional expressions eg. ‘gobsmacked’.
‘Don’t’, ‘doesn’t’ etc.
Shortened forms of words and phrases – eg., etc., vs.
These are over-used phrases like, ‘fit as a fiddle’.
5. Imperative voice
The imperative voice is a command or request – ‘Please don’t do it!’
6. Active voice
This is when the subject of the sentence is the person or thing performing the action.
7. Short, simple sentences and exclamation marks.
Short, simple sentences are used in informal letters. In formal letters sentences are longer and more detailed.
8. Exclamation marks
Used in informal letters, but don’t overuse them otherwise the letter becomes comical rather.
Use informal vocabulary: ‘help’ rather than ‘assistance’, ‘buy’ rather than ‘purchase’, ‘need’ instead of ‘obtain’, ‘thinking’ instead of ‘considering’, and so on.
Use phrasal verbs appropriately
Here are some examples:
Formal: Clinicians did a test. Informal: Clinicians carried out a test.
Formal: We must eradicate bullying. Informal: We must stamp out bullying.
Formal: We should maintain standards. Informal: We should keep up the standards.
Formal: Let us organize a meeting. Informal: Let’s set up a meeting.
Salutation and valediction
There are differences between the ways you can begin and end formal and informal letters:
Formal: Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Mr Stevens. Informal: Dear Rebecca.
Formal: Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully. Informal: All the best, See you soon, Best wishes or Regards
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