How to Write Informal Letters in English (with Examples)
In this article, you'll learn how to write informal letters in English, with sample opening and closing sentences. Also, learn the proper formatting for the address, date, and signature; and about the structure and content of personal letters. Additionally, I've added some templates and samples of complete letters.
What is an Informal Letter?
An informal letter is a letter that is written in a personal fashion. You can write them to relatives or friends, but also really to anyone with whom you have a non-professional relationship with, although this doesn't exclude business partners or workers with whom you're friendly with either. There are different ways to carry out this type of letter depending on which country you're in. This article will address the English/American way.
We'll discuss the following elements:
- text / body / content
- closing / end
Your personal address should be located at the top right corner of the page, since you do not always know if someone has your address in case they want to reply. Remember to also fill in your country of residence (if that is where you are writing from).
- Street name and number: 33 Downing Street
- Postal code and city: 7777 AS Amsterdam
- Country: The Netherlands
The addressee or receiver's address is usually located on the front of the envelope. You can, however, also choose to place it at the top left of the letter, just below your own address.
- Sur name, last name: John White
- Street name and number: 21 Madison Road
- Postal code, city: NP 194 Oxford
- State or Province: Oxfordshire
- Country: United Kingdom
In a number of countries, people will insert the city where the letter is being written from. The English, however, do no such thing. The date is usually located below your own address. Simply leave one line below open, and insert the date. The month, day and year are the normal thing to mention. Sometimes even only the month and day will be sufficient. (Do not forget that in English, the months are spelled with capital letters.)
- English letter: 22 November, 2011
- American letter: November 22, 2011
The contents of your letter should be written in a personal and friendly tone. However, it's important to adjust your use of language to the person you are writing to. A good way of assessing how you should write is to think about how you would interact with each other in real life. Also, the English and the Americans are fond of exchanging social niceties. For example, they like asking a few polite questions "How are you?" or "How was your holiday?" for example. In general, they are not as direct as most Europeans.
- In the first paragraph of your body, you should state your reason for writing.
- In the second and following paragraphs, expand on what you mentioned in the first paragraph.
- In the final paragraphs, you can make some concluding remarks.
How do you address someone in English? This is fairly straightforward, and it is usually not as important as would be with a business or formal letter. However, there are still a few things that you should know about in terms of addressing someone properly in an informal latter.
- First of all, in England there is no period after "Mr," but in American letters there is one.
- Secondly, women are addressed as "Mrs." if they are married, and with "Ms." when they are not.
This heavily depends on how well you know the person in question. Carefully consider your relationship with him or her. You could simply say: "Hi Richard," but it is always safer to just say "Dear Richard," (Never forget the comma!)
Sample Opening Sentences
Your opening should be casual, and not as stiff as they would be in business letters.
- How are you?
- How have you been?
- How is life treating you?
- How are the kids?
- I hope you are doing well
- I hope you, Mike, and the kids are having a great time in. . .
Closing sentences examples:
- I am looking forward to seeing you.
- I can't wait to see you soon.
- I can't wait to hear from you.
- I am looking forward to hearing from you, I hope to be hearing from you soon.
- See you soon.
- Send my love to. . .
- I hope you are doing well.
- Give my regards to. . .
In terms of signing off, the choice is yours and you have a lot of freedom here. Here are some examples:
- Best wishes,
- Kind regards,
- Best regards,
- Lots of love,
Below are some samples letters. You will see that they adhere to the same structure as discussed in this article. These will give you a better understanding of how the letters can be written.
Looking for how to write a business letter in English, instead?