GT Writing letter 2: Key principles in a personal style letter (requesting, explaining, proposin)

You are living in a city in a foreign country, and a friend from your home country is soon coming to visit you for several days.

Write an email to your friend,
asking him or her to bring some things from home which you need
saying why you need them
making arrangements to meet
Begin your letter ‘Dear ——–’

Do not write any addresses
Write at least 150 words

Before you read the explanation and model letter, ask yourself the same questions as before:
Is the recipient of this a letter a person you know personally, or someone you don’t know? Is this person a friend?
Therefore, should it be in a personal or formal style?
How should you complete the ‘Dear ——-’ part?
Which of the four content ideas is it asking you to use (complaining, requesting,explaining/apologising, suggesting)?

Explanation of the Task

Recipient The imaginary recipient is obviously a friend.

Style The style should be personal, so you can use contractions (‘don’t’ etc), short words, phrasal verbs and friendly, personal phrases. In a personal letter, begin with ‘Dear + the friend’s first name
only.’ Never write their first name + surname, and never write ‘Dear friend.’

Content The task is asking you for: requesting, explaining and suggesting (ask for the things you need,explain why you need them, suggest a meeting time/place.)

Band 9 model letter 2

Dear Peter,
I’m so glad that you’re coming to Montreal next week, as it seems ages since we last saw each other. I hope your family and girlfriend are all well. I actually have a favour to ask you, and I hope you don’t mind. The fact is that I need a few things from my parents’ house, and I’d be so grateful if you could bring them along in your suitcase.

The first thing is the book of maths calculations which I had at high school – don’t worry, it’s only a small book. I need this because it has all the material I studied for my exams, and I can’t get another copy here in any of the bookshops or on the Internet. The second thing is a packet of those biscuits from the bakery in my old street. I’ve told everyone here how delicious they are, and my new friends are very keen to try them!

I do hope that is manageable for you, as it won’t take up much space at all. In the meantime, I’m very excited about seeing you again at the airport on Monday at midday. I’ll be in the arrivals hall, wearing my blue jacket. I can’t wait to see you then.

All the best,


(213 words)

Why is this a band 9 letter?

Recipient: The candidate has addressed the letter and finished it in a suitable way, with a friendly phrase and ‘All the best’ at the end + his first name only. He refers to the fact that he knows the
recipient well and has not seen him for some time, which people often do in letters to friends.

Style: The candidate has used a personal style, with contractions and short, simple words in some cases (eg ‘seems ages/small/ thing/keen to try/my old street.’) This vocabulary works well here, but would not be suitable in a formal letter.

Phrasal verbs are used naturally (‘Bring them along/take up space’) instead of Latin-based verbs (the Latin, formal versions would be ‘convey them/occupy space.’)

The candidate has used typical personal structures in a realistic way (‘I’m so glad/I’m so grateful/I do hope/I’m very excited’) to show his feelings.

Where the candidate uses formal words (eg ‘material, delicious, excited’) this is done because certain formal words are often used like this, even in personal letters.

The candidate uses one exclamation mark (‘very keen to try them!’) to make a small joke. It is fine to use one such mark in a personal letter. Don’t use more than one, because that would be annoying to the recipient.

Content: The candidate has separated the three content ideas into three clear paragraphs. He has invented some details of the imaginary situation (the books, biscuits, the blue jacket) which are
convincing and seem like real life. He expresses his request with consideration to the possible inconvenience for his friend, and he thanks the friend for the help.

The length of the letter (211 words) is the ideal length for a Task 1 letter.

Summary of model letter 2

We have now identified some of the most important points in writing a Band 9 IELTS GT personal letter:
Start with Dear + first name only.
Conclude with a friendly, personal sentence and ‘All the best’ + your first name.
Use contractions, phrasal verbs and informal vocabulary.
Some of the principles are also the same as for a GT formal letter:
Separate the content ideas into clear paragraphs or sections.
Invent some relevant, realistic details, but keep this clear and brief.
Our next two model letters give you more advice about beginning and ending your letters in a formal and also a personal sty