GT Writing letter 4: Personal style greetings & endings; explaining, suggesting, requesting

A friend has told you that he or she feels lonely in their new city away from their family.

Write to your friend, and
Explain why people can feel this way
Give some ideas on how to solve the problem
Ask your friend to contact you and tell you if this works

Begin your letter ‘Dear ——–’
Do not write any addresses
Write at least 150 words

Explanation of the Task

Recipient: This is a friend that you know well; you have a close relationship.
Style: The style will be personal, with emphasis on the possibility of the friend being upset or
Content: The task is asking for explaining (why people feel like this), suggesting (things to improve
the situation), requesting (that your friend keeps in touch.)

Band 9 model letter 4

Dear Petra,

I am so sorry to hear that you are feeling rather isolated in your new home, especially as you have always been such an outgoing person!

I think that people tend to feel lonely because they don’t have enough opportunities to meet new friends. This leads to them staying at home more, so that the situation becomes even worse.

If I were you, I would join some of the clubs and societies which exist at your college, for example the ballroom dancing club – because I know how much you love dancing. This means you will meet people with similar interests and abilities, and you can share the enjoyment of ballroom. I would also try to use the Internet more, to meet people safely online and see if they are local to you in your new city. You have to be very careful, of course, but if you use Internet sites as they are intended I’m sure you will find some new friends – not necessarily of the romantic type!

Please do keep in touch, and let me know how you get on with these suggestions. If you let me know
how this goes, I can try to think of other ways to help you in your situation at the moment.

Take care and do stay in touch. All the best,


(222 words)

Why is this a band 9 letter?

Recipient: The letter has a greeting and an ending which are suitable for personal letters to friends.At the end of a personal letter, put a short, friendly phrase (eg ‘Take care and do stay in touch’)
followed by a space and then ‘All the best’ + your first name only. Don’t put your family name or phrases such as ‘Your old friend Anjelika’ etc.

Other examples of the short, friendly phrases to use before ‘All the best’ at the end are:
‘I’ll be thinking of you and the family.’
‘Hope to hear from you soon with lots of news.’
‘See you on Wednesday!’
‘Do keep in touch, you know I like hearing from you.’
‘Best wishes from everyone here.’
‘Take care, and wrap up warm if it’s cold.’
‘I must go now, because I’ve got so much packing to do.’

Remember to put a comma (,) at the end of ‘All the best,’ and don’t put a full stop (.) after your name.It’s possible that your English teacher has shown you how to write ‘PS’ at the end of a personal letter to add some extra information. For example:

See you soon,
PS My flight arrives at midnight, so I’ll take a taxi.
In reality, people rarely do this today. You should only do this in IELTS personal letters if you think you have not written 150 words, and you want to add some more words. Remember, you cannot use ‘PS’ in a formal letter.

Style:This candidate uses some good personal phrases for giving advice:
‘If I were you, I would join . . . I would also try to . . .’
Other ways to give personal advice are:
‘Maybe you could go . . .’
‘Have you tried to go . . .’
‘You could always go . . .’
‘It might be a good idea to go . . .’

Try to use these phrases, and not just ‘You should go . . .’ because they are more complex.
Saying ‘I suggest that you go . . .’ is too formal for a personal letter; it would be better to use this phrase in a formal letter for the ‘suggesting’ content ideas.

Content:The candidate has separated the three content parts in to three sections. The ‘suggesting’ part is much longer than the other two, but in reality this would probably be the case. Your three sections don’t have to be exactly the same length; try to imagine what the letter would be like in reality.

The candidate uses an exclamation mark (‘!’) at the beginning; this seems to be an attempt to ‘cheer up’ the recipient, and so this is effective.
Considering that the recipient is probably feeling upset, the candidate expresses the ‘requesting’ part with sensitivity:

‘Please do keep in touch . . . If you let me know . . . I can try to . . .’
Using the ‘zero conditional’ (If + present simple tense + can) like this is a good way to make requests or suggestions in a personal letter. Other examples are:
‘If you leave the things at my house, I can take them with me.’
‘If you let me know the arrival time, I can meet you in my car.’
You could also use the ‘first conditional’ (If + present tense + will) for this:
‘If you send out the party invitations, I’ll bring all the food.’
‘If you bring your essay over, I’ll read it and try to help.’

The IELTS examiner will be impressed to see requests and suggestions made in this way for personal letters. Our next letter shows you other ways of making personal suggestions, in a situation where the recipient is probably happier and less sensitive