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Letter Writing (Basics) 01
When you are writing a formal letter to someone you don't know then begin with 'Dear Sir or Madam'.

Letter Writing (Basics) 01

Layout and structure are two of the basics when it comes to letter writing. The dictionary tells us that the word "formal" means "being in accord with established forms, conventions and requirements". Letters can be written in both a formal and an informal manner.

How often do you write letters? Do you send letters to your family members who live far away? Have you sent a letter to a newspaper or a local official, such as a councillor? Perhaps you have never had a reason to send a letter at all!

Nonetheless, it is useful to know the rules for letter-writing for three reasons. The first of these is that you might need to write formal letters in future, especially for job applications. The second reason is that learning the rules of letter-writing helps you to distinguish between formal modes of address and informal. The final reason is that most of these rules apply to email, too, and knowing the rules will help you be confident in writing formal emails to people you do not know.

Test your knowledge of letter-writing with this quiz.

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Which of these would require a formal letter?
A blog
A job application
To a friend
To a relative
A blog contains posts and messages, but not usually letters
An informal letter could begin with .......
Dear John,
Dear Madam,
Dear Sir,
Dear Sir/Madam,
If you usually call John by his first name, you will write to him informally
A letter beginning with "Dear Sir/Madam," should end .......
Best wishes,
With love,
Yours faithfully,
Yours sincerely,
Use a capital for "Yours" and lower case for "faithfully"
The formal term for the ending of a letter is what?
The end
The ending
The goodbye
The valediction
"Yours faithfully", "Yours sincerely" and "Best wishes" are all valedictions
A letter beginning with "Dear Anna," could end .......
Best wishes,
Yours faithfully,
Yours fatefully,
Yours sincerely,
Although slightly old fashioned, "Best wishes" is still suited to informal, rather than formal, letters
A letter opening with "Dear Mr Singh" should end with .......
Best wishes,
Yours faithfully,
Yours sincerely,
Yours sincerly,
Use "Yours sincerely" when you know the person's surname. Remember to put a second e in "sincerely"!
Which of these would require an informal letter?
For a job application
To a company complaining about faulty goods
To a penfriend
To your local newspaper
Friendly letters are informal
A formal letter should begin with .......
Dear Evie,
Dear John,
Dear Mum,
Dear Sir/Madam,
A formal letter could also use names, as in "Dear Ms Smith"
The formal term for the beginning of a letter is .......
The beginning/opening
The conclusion/ending
The opening/beginning
The salutation/greeting
"Dear John", "Dear Madam", etc., are salutations
The date of writing the letter should be .......
Not written anywhere
Written at the top under the address
Written at the very end
Written before your signature.
Always include the date as a point of reference


Author:  Sue Daish

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