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Distinguish Between Formal and Informal Letter Writing

In this worksheet, students read examples of formal and informal letters and answer questions on their structure and vocabulary.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Structure and Purpose

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

People write letters for many different reasons.

For example:

  • to thank someone for a present
  • to apply for a job
  • to send news to a relative or pen friend
  • to complain about something

 

 

Some letters are written, some are typed and some are sent by email, but there are some rules you need to follow when you write letters for different purposes.

 

To begin with, letters can be formal or informal. If you are writing to someone you don't know, or you are writing to complain about something, you would write a formal letter, but if you were writing to a friend or relative you would write a more informal, or chatty letter.

 

In this worksheet you can read examples of different letters and look at the language used in them.

Read this letter.

 

Dear Granny


Thanks ever so much for the Harry Potter DVD you sent me for my birthday. I can't wait to watch it this weekend.


I had a great birthday yesterday. My friends Joe and Amir came round and we went bowling and then for a pizza. It was brill!


Mum says to send you her love and to tell you that we're all looking forward to seeing you when you come and stay for Christmas.


Tons of love


Josh


xxxx

 

Is it a formal letter or an informal letter?

formal

informal

When you write informal letters you can shorten words and use slang. What shortened word does Josh use to describe the bowling and pizza?

Write it in the answer box.

 

Dear Granny


Thanks ever so much for the Harry Potter DVD you sent me for my birthday. I can't wait to watch it this weekend.


I had a great birthday yesterday. My friends Joe and Amir came round and we went bowling and then for a pizza. It was brill!


Mum says to send you her love and to tell you that we're all looking forward to seeing you when you come and stay for Christmas.


Tons of love


Josh


xxxx

Josh signs his letter 'Tons of love'. This is very informal.

 

Which of the other ways in the list would also be suitable ways for Josh to sign his letter to his granny?

Tick two boxes.

Lots of love

Yours sincerely

Love from

LOL

Yours faithfully

Now read this letter.

 

Dear Sir / Madam


I am writing to complain about the state of our streets. When I walk along the roads I see litter everywhere and graffiti on the walls. The bins are often overflowing and there are leaves in all the gutters.


I pay my council tax and believe I have the right to live in pleasant surroundings. I am proud of our town and feel saddened to see the state that is is currently in.


I request that you make more effort to keep our town looking like the beautiful place it should be.


Yours faithfully


John Smith

 

Is is a formal letter or an informal letter?

formal

informal

What does Mr Smith write just before his name at the end of the letter? Copy the words into the answer box.

 

Dear Sir / Madam


I am writing to complain about the state of our streets. When I walk along the roads I see litter everywhere and graffiti on the walls. The bins are often overflowing and there are leaves in all the gutters.


I pay my council tax and believe I have the right to live in pleasant surroundings. I am proud of our town and feel saddened to see the state that is is currently in.


I request that you make more effort to keep our town looking like the beautiful place it should be.


Yours faithfully


John Smith

Look at the different ways of signing off a letter below and decide which ones are formal, which are fairly informal and which are very informal.

 

You should have two formal, two fairly informal and two very informal ways.

 formalfairly informalvery informal
Yours sincerely
LOL
Best wishes
Tons of love
Kind regards
Yours faithfully

Read the sentence openings below and decide whether they would be suitable for a formal letter or an informal letter.

 

Think about the type of words that have been used each time.

 formal letterinformal letter
I am writing to request...
In my opinion...
I reckon...
I firmly believe that...

Decide whether you would write a formal letter or an informal letter in the following situations.

 formal letterinformal letter
You are writing to the local newspaper to ask them to write a report on your school production.
You are inviting your pen friend to come and stay.
You are writing to your local newsagent to apply for a job as a paperboy or papergirl.
You are sending a holiday postcard to your best friend.
You are applying for the job of school councillor and writing to your headteacher to explain why you would be good at the job.
  • Question 1

Read this letter.

 

Dear Granny


Thanks ever so much for the Harry Potter DVD you sent me for my birthday. I can't wait to watch it this weekend.


I had a great birthday yesterday. My friends Joe and Amir came round and we went bowling and then for a pizza. It was brill!


Mum says to send you her love and to tell you that we're all looking forward to seeing you when you come and stay for Christmas.


Tons of love


Josh


xxxx

 

Is it a formal letter or an informal letter?

CORRECT ANSWER
informal
EDDIE SAYS
It is an informal and chatty letter. Josh knows his granny very well and does not need to be formal with her.
  • Question 2

When you write informal letters you can shorten words and use slang. What shortened word does Josh use to describe the bowling and pizza?

Write it in the answer box.

 

Dear Granny


Thanks ever so much for the Harry Potter DVD you sent me for my birthday. I can't wait to watch it this weekend.


I had a great birthday yesterday. My friends Joe and Amir came round and we went bowling and then for a pizza. It was brill!


Mum says to send you her love and to tell you that we're all looking forward to seeing you when you come and stay for Christmas.


Tons of love


Josh


xxxx

CORRECT ANSWER
brill
brill!
EDDIE SAYS
'Brill' is short for 'brilliant'. It is fine to use words like this in informal letters.
  • Question 3

Josh signs his letter 'Tons of love'. This is very informal.

 

Which of the other ways in the list would also be suitable ways for Josh to sign his letter to his granny?

Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
Lots of love
Love from
EDDIE SAYS
'Yours sincerely' and 'Yours faithfully' are very formal ways of ending a letter and would not normally be used for friends or family. 'LOL' is very modern and often used in texts, but is not really suitable for a letter.
  • Question 4

Now read this letter.

 

Dear Sir / Madam


I am writing to complain about the state of our streets. When I walk along the roads I see litter everywhere and graffiti on the walls. The bins are often overflowing and there are leaves in all the gutters.


I pay my council tax and believe I have the right to live in pleasant surroundings. I am proud of our town and feel saddened to see the state that is is currently in.


I request that you make more effort to keep our town looking like the beautiful place it should be.


Yours faithfully


John Smith

 

Is is a formal letter or an informal letter?

CORRECT ANSWER
formal
EDDIE SAYS
This is a very formal letter, written to make a complaint.
  • Question 5

What does Mr Smith write just before his name at the end of the letter? Copy the words into the answer box.

 

Dear Sir / Madam


I am writing to complain about the state of our streets. When I walk along the roads I see litter everywhere and graffiti on the walls. The bins are often overflowing and there are leaves in all the gutters.


I pay my council tax and believe I have the right to live in pleasant surroundings. I am proud of our town and feel saddened to see the state that is is currently in.


I request that you make more effort to keep our town looking like the beautiful place it should be.


Yours faithfully


John Smith

CORRECT ANSWER
Yours faithfully
EDDIE SAYS
In formal letters we usually write 'Dear Sir / Madam' and 'Yours faithfully' when we don't know a person's name. If we do know their name we write 'Yours sincerely'.
  • Question 6

Look at the different ways of signing off a letter below and decide which ones are formal, which are fairly informal and which are very informal.

 

You should have two formal, two fairly informal and two very informal ways.

CORRECT ANSWER
 formalfairly informalvery informal
Yours sincerely
LOL
Best wishes
Tons of love
Kind regards
Yours faithfully
EDDIE SAYS
People sometimes write 'kind regards' to someone they don't know very well. It is polite but not as formal as 'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully'.
  • Question 7

Read the sentence openings below and decide whether they would be suitable for a formal letter or an informal letter.

 

Think about the type of words that have been used each time.

CORRECT ANSWER
 formal letterinformal letter
I am writing to request...
In my opinion...
I reckon...
I firmly believe that...
EDDIE SAYS
The word 'reckon' is informal. All the other sentence openers are very formal.
  • Question 8

Decide whether you would write a formal letter or an informal letter in the following situations.

CORRECT ANSWER
 formal letterinformal letter
You are writing to the local newspaper to ask them to write a report on your school production.
You are inviting your pen friend to come and stay.
You are writing to your local newsagent to apply for a job as a paperboy or papergirl.
You are sending a holiday postcard to your best friend.
You are applying for the job of school councillor and writing to your headteacher to explain why you would be good at the job.
EDDIE SAYS
Although people send a lot of emails and texts these days it is still important to know when a formal letter is appropriate.
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