IELTS writing course – lesson #2

General Training Writing Task 1: Introduction and Tone

In General Training Writing Task 1 you will have to write a letter in response to a given task.
The way you begin the first paragraph and the style you use will depend on:

  • The overall purpose of the letter
  • The tone of the message you want to get across
  • Your relationship to the person receiving the letter.


Test tip: Always bear in mind the reason you are writing your letter and who will read it. You will lose marks if you use the wrong tone.

1 Look at these opening sentences. Can you tell whether the writer knows the person receiving the letter? What is the purpose of these letters?

Know the reader? Purpose of the letter
a Thanks so much for your letter and the lovely photos of the wedding, which are absolutely marvelous. yes To express thanks to a friend
b I am a first-year student in the Faculty of Science.I am writing to ask permission to transfer from Biochemistry to Biology …
c I’m writing to thank you for your hospitality on Saturday. It was very kind of you to give us dinner even though we arrived unexpectedly.
d I am a resident at Flat 4, 43 Westbridge Road, Newport. I would like to report that a green Toyota van has been abandoned outside our block of flats…
e Following our telephone conversation, this is to confirm that, unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the meeting on 3rd March.
f On 15th March, I purchased a new car through your Perth showroom. Since then I have experienced a series of difficulties which I wish to outline …


2 Which salutations and endings would you use with paragraphs a-f in exercise 1?

Salutation usage sign off with
Dear Sir,
Dear Sirs,
Use only when you are writing a formal or official letter and you do not know the person you are writing to, or their name. Yours faithfully,
Dear Mr Joe,
Dear Ms Park,
Dear Dr Yong,
Use the title with the family name when you are writing a formal letter to someone you know or whose name you have been given. Use this salutation for people you don’t know very well or where you need to show respect. Kind regards,
Your Sincerely,
Dear Rose,
Dear Yoko,
Use given names only with people you know quite well. In business this is sometimes acceptable, but if in doubt, use the family name. Always use given names when writing an informal letter to a friend or relative. Kind regards,
Best wishes,
Lots of love,

Opening and closing letters

3 Match the opening sentences a-e with the closing sentences i-v below.
Underline the key words that helped you to do this.

Opening sentences

a)  It was lovely to hear from you after all these years.
b)  I was really sorry to hear about Aunt Mary’s accident.
c)  I am a student at your college and I am writing to ask a favour.
d)  Thank you for your letter regarding the position of office assistant.
e)  This is just to thank you for your marvellous hospitality last week.

Closing sentences

i)  Give my regards to your mother and best wishes for her speedy recovery.
ii)  I hope you are able to help me and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
iii)  I hope one day to be able to return the warm welcome.
iv)  We look forward to seeing you at the interview.
v)  Please stay in touch.


2 Apologising
3 Explaining
4 Requesting
5 Persuading
6 Compaining
7 Introducing yourself
8 Thanking
9 Suggesting
10 Expressing a feeling
11 Inviting