Letter Style: Formal Letters (1)

Read the Task 1 question, then click to answer the questions below.

Writing Task 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You have a job interview next week. However, you cannot attend the interview at the arranged time.

Write a letter to your prospective employer. In your letter

  • introduce yourself
  • explain why you cannot attend the interview
  • apologise and propose an alternative interview time
Write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows: 

Dear …………………………

The style of a letter is determined mainly by the relationship between the writer and the recipient, and the structure and vocabulary that are appropriate for the relationship. A letter may be formal or informal in style. In formal letters the greetings are more standard (e.g. “Dear Mr Smith”) and the vocabulary is more serious (e.g. “I apologize for the delay.”) In informal letters the greetings and vocabulary are more casual and colloquial (e.g. “Hi Mary” and “Sorry about that!”)
Formal letters have formal structure, style and vocabulary. One example of formal style is the fact that formal letters do not have contractions. Formal style and vocabulary are appropriate when you are writing to a person in authority, to a person you do not know, or to an organization.
1. Which adjectives best describe the style of letter you would write to a prospective employer?
very friendly
2. Which is the correct way to write the greeting in a formal letter?
Dear Mr Hodgkins
Dear Bruce
Dear Mr Bruce
3. Which is the correct way to ask for a meeting in a formal letter?
I would like to meet with you on Thursday.
I’d like to catch up with you on Thursday.
I’d like to meet you on Thursday.
4. Which is the correct way to apologise in a formal letter?
I am very sorry for causing you a problem.
I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.

I apologise.
Exercise: /5