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Writing a Letter
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Writing a Letter

When writing a letter, layout and paragraphs are important factors. A writer always addresses an audience, which, of course, means the reader. When someone writes a letter, this relationship between reader and writer becomes less abstract and much more immediate. A letter is often meant for a single person. At GCSE, you will be required to know how to write letters for several purposes, using different styles.

Test your knowledge of this form of writing by trying this English revision quiz.

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1.
Which of these would be a letter written to advise?
A letter written to the headteacher to complain about extended school hours
A letter to friend, who has asked for your best ideas and tips for exam revision
A letter to a newspaper editor in response to an opinion piece published the previous day
A letter to an exchange pupil, introducing yourself before the exchange
Remember to sound friendly and authoritative, rather than patronising, in a letter of advice
2.
Which of these personal qualities will NOT improve a letter written to persuade?
Being polite
Being convincing
Being arrogant
Being interesting
Arrogance is likely to predispose the recipient against your case - be authoritative, but modest
3.
What would you include at the top right-hand side of a formal letter?
Your address
The name of the recipient and 'Dear Sir / Madam'
The date only
The name and address of the recipient
4.
You would NOT write a formal letter to which of the following people / organisations?
Your local council, to complain of inadequate street lighting
Your headteacher, to argue against a proposed change to the school timetable
Your cousin, who is planning to visit you and has asked what you have planned for the visit
The business or organisation which has offered you a work experience placement
5.
When should you end the letter with 'Yours faithfully,'?
In a formal letter which begins with the name of the recipient
In a formal letter which begins 'Dear Sir / Madam'
In an informal letter
You should never end a letter with 'Yours faithfully,'
If you have addressed a formal letter to a specific person, you sign off with 'Yours sincerely,'
6.
When writing to persuade or argue, you should acknowledge the point of view opposing your own. What is meant by this?
You should mention the opposing point of view
You should falsify the case for the opposing point of view
You should strongly argue the case for the opposing point of view
You should ignore any points of view with which you do not agree
You should mention the opposing point of view and some of its supporting arguments before countering them with points in your favour
7.
Which of these persuasive techniques can be used in a formal letter to build an argument?
Appeal to authority
Use of jargon
A selective use of statistics
All of the above
All of these techniques help to build an argument - your job as a critical reader is to see through these techniques when they are used by other writers!
8.
What should the first paragraph in the body of a formal letter include?
A rambling introduction of yourself
A brief history of the topic
Your purpose in writing
A paragraph flattering the recipient of the letter
You should clearly state why you are writing
9.
Which structure would best suit a letter written to argue a point of view?
Expected response to letter, criticism of opponents, bribe
Personal introduction, statement of purpose, expected response to letter
Two paragraphs on opposing argument, one paragraph on your argument, personal introduction
Statement of purpose, three or four paragraphs arguing case, expected response
Persuasive letters are most effective when they conclude with a clear statement of the response you expect from the recipient
10.
Because these will dictate a letter's tone and style, you will need to have a clear idea of...
your address
your audience and purpose
the type of paper you have chosen
the name of the recipient (the person to whom you are writing)
Of course, you should also know the name of the person you are addressing (and your own address) - but it is the sense of audience and purpose which dictate how you write your letter
Author:  Sheri Smith

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