English Writing Exercises for B1 – A formal letter

Preparation

Writing Strategy 1

–  If you know the name of the person you are writing to, start with Dear Miss / Mrs / Ms / Mr ___ , and finish with Yours sincerely, followed by your signature and your full name.

–  If you don’t know the name of the person, start with Dear Sir or Madam, and finish with Yours faithfully, followed by your signature and your full name.

1. Read Writing Strategy 1. Then write the two missing words at the start and end of the letter.

Show answers

1 madam   2 faithfully

2. Underline in the letter more formal ways of saying:

to ask about

mum and dad

we don’t want to

it would be good if

tell me about

make clear

getting your answer

soon

Dear Sir or 1 _____,

I am writing to enquire about the possibility of renting Hillside Cottage for three weeks in the summer.

I will be travelling to the Lake District with parents and brother. We plan to arrive in London on 14 July, but do not wish to hire a car. I would be grateful if you could inform me of the best way to reach the cottage by public transport.

Although the advertisement states that the cottage has two bedrooms, it is not clear whether the second room is large enough for two people to share. I wonder if you could clarify this point.

Finally, I would like to know what leisure activities are available in the area surrounding the cottage. We are particularly interested in house riding.

I look forward to receiving your reply in due course.

Yours 2 _____,

Tom Baker

Show answers

1 to enquire   2 parents   3 do not wish to  

4 I would be grateful if   5 inform me   6 clarify

7 receiving your reply   8 in due course

Writing Strategy 2

Divide your letter into paragraphs.

In the first paragraph, which can be a single sentence, say why you are writing.

Each paragraph should have its own topic. It is usually best to deal with the four points in the task in four separate paragraphs.

4   In the final paragraph, which can be a single sentence, say that you expect a reply.

5   Avoid colloquial language and short forms.

3. Read Writing Strategy 2. Then read the task and answer the questions below.

You are planning to visit the Lake District this summer with your family and have seen an advertisement for a cottage. Write a letter to the owner in which you:

–  give information about the people travelling.

–  ask about travelling to the cottage.

–  request information about the bedrooms.

–  ask about leisure facilities in the area.

1 How many paragraphs are in the model letter?

2 Which two points in the task are covered in one paragraph in the model letter? and

Show answers

1 5

2 1 and 2

Writing Guide

You are planning to visit the New Forest this summer with some friends and have seen an advertisement for a campsite. Write a letter to the campsite manager in which you:

–  give information about who will be travelling and when.

–  ask about prices and availability.

–  give information about leisure activities you would like to do.

–  enquire about a specific facility at the campsite.

4. You are going to do the task above. Plan your letter. Make notes using the prompts below to help you.

People travelling: __________________

Dates of holiday: ________

Polite request to ask about prices: __________________

Polite request to ask about availability: ________

Leisure activities: _________

Campsite facility to ask about: ________

Show answers

your own answers

5. Write the letter, using your notes from exercise 4.

Extra exercises

Strategy

In formal letters of enquiry, you usually need to ask more than two questions. It’s best to use a combination of direct and indirect questions to do this.

1. Read the Strategy. Then complete the direct and indirect questions.

1 Is there a swimming pool nearby?

  Could you tell me ________.?

2 I’d also like to know how much a double room costs.

 How much ________.?

3 Can you tell me if the hotel has a garden?

 ________. a garden?

4 Can we check in before midday?

     I’d like to know ________.

Show answers

if / whether there is a swimming pool nearby

2 does a double room cost

Does the hotel have

4 if / whether we can check in before midday

2. Read the task below and write the letter.

You have been asked to organise a half-day event for about 150 people from your school. The school has invided a popular TV star to talk about his/her trip to India. You are thinking of booking a meeting room at the Victoria Hotel. Write a letter in which you:

–  give information about why you’d like to book a room.

–  inform them of the time and date you’d like to have the room, and ask about availability.

–  ask about equipment in the room.

–  ask for suggestions about cheap places to eat in or near the hotel.