Here's my full answer to last week's General Writing task:
Here's my full answer for last week's general writing question:
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am writing to ask for some time off work next month.
The reason for this ______ is that my brother is getting married. His future wife is Australian, and the wedding will take ______ in her home city, Melbourne. As the brother of the groom, I cannot miss such a special occasion.
To attend the ceremony and make the ______ trip from the UK, I would need at least five days off work. However, I would like to take the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Australia, and so I am hoping that you will allow me to take a full two weeks’ ______, from the 1st to the 15th of May.
I have spoken to my co-workers, and it seems that Peter Jones would be best ______ to cover my project commitments while I am away. I will ______ detailed instructions for him on my desk.
I hope that my request does not cause you any inconvenience.
Fill the gaps with the words below:
- leave (verb)
- leave (noun)
If you're doing the general IELTS test, try this writing task 1 question from Cambridge book 9, page 117:
This should be a formal letter, so start with "Dear Mr. Smith" (Mr. or Mrs. and any surname). Then write a short paragraph for each of the three bullet points in the task box above. End the letter with "Yours sincerely" and a full name (you don't need to use your own name).
It might help if you do a quick plan before you start writing. Just spend a couple of minutes thinking of ideas for each bullet point.
Here are some mistakes that you should avoid in writing task 1 of the GT test:
Avoid these mistakes, and you are on the way to writing a good letter!
Here's a general writing task 1 question from Cambridge IELTS book 9:
The question tells you to begin with "Dear Sir or Madam", so we know that it needs to be a formal letter. After that, you just need 3 short paragraphs to cover the bullet points in the question, followed by a formal letter ending.
I'll write my sample answer for next week.
Let's compare some of the formal and informal features in the two letters that you can see if you click here.
One of the first things that the examiner will notice in your letter is its 'tone'. In other words, is your letter written in an appropriately formal or informal way, depending on the person you are addressing?
Compare the tone of the two letters in the document linked below. Make a list of the formal and informal features that you find. Click here to see the document.
Here are some formal phrases that I've used in previous lessons. See if you can use them in your own letters:
Beginning the letter by explaining why you are writing:
Requesting or suggesting something:
Ending the letter with a request for action:
I haven't done a lesson about the General Writing test for a while, so here's an interesting question that a student sent me. I'll share my answer next week.
Remember that the examiner is looking for the following things:
Here are some questions that a student asked me about General Writing task 1:
1. Should I write the date at the top of a formal letter?
No, in the IELTS test you should not write the date or your address.
2. Should I use indentation at the start of a new paragraph?
You can either indent or miss a line. Just make sure it's clear that you have begun a new paragraph. Personally, I think missing a line is clearer.
3. Should I end the letter with "Yours..." on the left or on the right?
Always end the letter on the left. Have a look at my letters on this page.
4. Should I sign the letter before writing my name?
No, don't sign your name. You don't even need to put your real name. Personally, I use a first name (e.g. John) for informal letters, and a full name (e.g. John Smith) for formal letters.
Here's a recent question from General IELTS writing task 1:
My advice is to choose an easy topic like "litter". Write a quick plan with ideas for each bullet point. If you need some help, have a look at this website.
Yesterday I forgot to mention my key piece of advice for writing task 1 in the General Training test. If I had to choose one key piece of advice for GT task 1, I'd say that you need to get the 'tone' right.
The tone of your letter is its character or attitude, either formal or informal. For a summary of the differences between formal and informal letters, read this lesson.
Let's look again at the letter I wrote last week. One interesting thing to notice is the variety of verb tenses:
I take, the overcrowding means, this is...
I am writing, passengers are becoming, delays are making...
my train has arrived, I have been unable, I have seen...
you will address
Let's do a quick plan for the question below.
Always do a quick plan! The plan above only took me a couple of minutes, and now I'm ready to write a good essay. I'll post it next week.
Don't worry about whether the problem seems realistic or not. You will be judged according to how well you express ideas, not on the ideas themselves.
The phrases below make the letter in this lesson a bit more friendly / informal:
It's a good idea to write a quick plan before you start writing your letter. Take this question for example:
Here's my quick plan: