GT Writing letter 9: Complaining, requesting (semi-formal style)

You recently attended a party, where you saw one of the guests being rude to a neighbour in the next house.

Write an email to the guest,
Complaining about their behaviour
Suggesting that the guest apologises to the neighbour
Asking them not to behave like this again

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

Explanation of the Task

Recipient: This is a person whom you know personally (from the party) but the suggestion in the Task is that they are not a friend (the Task says ‘the guest.’) You would certainly know their first name.

Style: In this imaginary situation, you know the recipient socially, but you are unhappy with them and you want to make them aware of this. A semi-formal style in a social context is suitable, combining personal and formal.

Remember: that personal and formal letters are much more common in IELTS GT than semi-formal letters, so you should practise them more.
Content The Task asks you for complaining (about the behaviour), suggesting (the apology) and requesting (that the behaviour is not repeated.)

Band 9 model letter 9

Dear Peter,

I think I need to write to you because of your behaviour at the party last week. This was meant to be a relaxed and friendly occasion, but I must say that you spoiled it by the way you spoke to the
neighbour, Mrs Smith. This lady is much older than you, and deserves to be treated with respect by all of us. We were all pretty shocked when you refused to turn down the music when she asked you to.

I do feel that you should go to see Mrs Smith, and apologise for being so impolite. If you’re embarrassed to do so, then you should at least write her a note saying that you’re sorry, and saying
that you hope she was not too offended or upset by your actions.

I also think that you need to make a greater effort to control your temper, and not to speak to people without thinking first of the way your words might be received. There’s another party coming up next weekend, and I hope that you’ll be there to show us all how well you can behave when you really want to.

Best wishes,

Aftab Geleit

(201 words)

Why is this a Band 9 letter?

Recipient: The letter is addressed and concluded in a suitable way. ‘Dear + first name’ is the personal greeting; ‘best wishes’ + first name + family name’ at the end is more formal, but still achieving a personal tone.

Style: The letter combines personal and formal elements effectively.

The personal elements are:

Using contractions in four cases
Using informal vocabulary (‘pretty shocked/ turn down/sorry/ another party coming up/really want to’) at times.
Using some personal letter phrases (‘I think I need to/I do feel that/ I hope that you’ll be there.’)

The more formal elements are:

Using formal phrases to make criticism and proposals:
‘I must say that’
‘deserves to be treated with respect’
‘apologise for being so impolite’
‘make a greater effort to control your temper’

Using formal language for criticism and proposals is done in English to emphasise the writer’s serious attitude and sense of concern; this is effective in this letter. The use of the ‘first name + family name’ at the end (rather than just the first name) emphasises this seriousness again.

Content: The candidate has used three logical paragraphs to organise the three content ideas, and these are very clear to see. The three sections are roughly the same length, so the letter feels well
balanced. The invented details are simple and relevant.

Remember: when you’re in the exam, don’t waste time thinking of names! Have a simple, common English first name and family name in your mind, so that you are ready to write either a personal,semi-formal or formal letter. Use your real name at the end; there’s no reason to invent a name for yourself