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Mastering Formal Language

Tips to write confidently C1 Advanced formal letters and emails

Hey there, fellow language learners! So you wanna be a master of formal writing, huh? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re writing an email to your boss, a letter to the queen, or just trying to impress your crush, nailing that formal tone can be a real challenge. But fear not, my friends, for I have some tips and tricks that will have you sounding like the most proper and polished writer in all the land! Let’s get started, shall we?

Advanced English learners can easily identify several issues with this introduction. It includes:

  1. The use of colloquial language (“Hey there”, “fellow”, “wanna”, “nailing”),
  2. The informal tone and style of writing, and
  3. The use of exclamation marks and rhetorical questions

The above are not typically used in formal writing, aren’t they?

Today, we will practise using the right language structures that fully cover what the formal register requires. The control of such language is a must in text types like essays, reports, proposals and formal letters or emails, all part of the C1 Advanced writing paper. Hence, the importance to dominate a range of formal vocabulary. 

Although formal letters/emails is what we are going to focus on today, the activities I’ve prepared for you will also help you reach the right level of formality in the rest of the above text types.

Let’s therefore start work with writing a letter or an email addressed to someone who is in a position of authority. So, the specified target reader could be the editor of a newspaper or magazine, the director of a company, or the school or college principal.

C1 Formal emails

Part ONE C1 Advanced formal letters and emails

Formal words and their informal equivalents

To warm up, let’s begin with an easy task.

Activity 1 Identify the informal equivalent for the fourteen common formal words below. Read the sentence provided as context to how the formal word is used.

Begin (v)

“I am writing to formally request that the project commence as soon as possible, as the deadline for completion is fast approaching.”

Keep (v)

“We kindly request that you retain a copy of this document for your records.”

End (v)

“We have no choice but to terminate our business relationship with your company.”

Use (v)

“The aim of this project is to utilize the latest technology to improve efficiency.”

Achieve (v)

“We appreciate your efforts in helping us accomplish our goals.”

Make easier/possible (v)

“Our goal is to facilitate a smooth transition for our clients.”

Carry out (v)

“We plan to implement a new strategy to improve our productivity.”

Ask (v)

“We would like to inquire about the availability of your services.”

Add more information (v)

“We kindly request that you elaborate further on the proposed project.”

Return, reply (v)

“We would appreciate it if you could revert to us with your decision as soon as possible.”

Get (v)

“We aim to obtain further information regarding the terms of the agreement.”

Ask for (v)

“We kindly request that you provide us with a quote for your services.”

Try to (v)

“We are making efforts to endeavour for a successful partnership.”

Communicate (v)

“We would like to convey our appreciation for your prompt response.”

Letters and emails written in an informal tone need connectors and linkers such as so, and, anyway, but, and many other everyday connecting devices. Which would their formal equivalents be? 

Activity 2 Study six common formal connectors as well as their formal synonyms. Write them down and come up with their informal equivalent. 

Formal connectors
Synonymous formal connectors
Furthermore
Additionally, in addition, besides, moreover
Nonetheless
Nevertheless, however
Consequently
As a result
Hence
Therefore
In contrast
On the other hand, conversely, however
In conclusion
Finally, ultimately

Note: Check out the informal equivalent to the above formal connectors at the end of the article.

Part TWO C1 Advanced formal letters and emails

Informal letter and its formal equivalent

Read the following C1 Advanced exam task:

An international magazine is running a series of articles on the importance of keeping in touch with people.

Readers are invited to write a letter to the magazine giving their opinions on how best to keep in touch with friends and family who live nearby and far away, and why it is important to do so.

Write a letter to the magazine.

Activity 1 Read the letter as a response to the exam task above. What seems to be wrong?

Hey there!

So, I saw that you guys are running an article on keeping in touch with people. I think it’s really important to stay in contact with family and friends, especially when they live far away.

For me, texting and video calls are the best way to do this. I try to keep in touch with my friends from college by setting up a video chat once a month. It’s always great to see their faces and catch up on what’s happening in their lives.

Anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.

Thanks for considering it!

The register and tone aren’t appropriate for the target reader, are they? So, we need to make considerable changes.

Activity 2 Change the ten informal pieces from this letter into formal ones. Once you’ve got yours, click to unveil a possible answer.

Dear Sir/Madam

I came across your recent article on maintaining relationships.

I firmly believe that it is imperative to maintain contact with family and friends.

particularly when they reside at a considerable distance

In my personal experience,

Electronic messaging and videoconferencing are the optimal methods of doing so.

I make an effort to remain in touch with my college friends by scheduling a videoconference on a monthly basis.

It is always a pleasure to connect with them and catch up on their lives.

Nevertheless

I would like to express my views on this matter.

Activity 3 You are ready to rewrite the informal letter above and turn it into a formal one.

An international magazine is running a series of articles on the importance of keeping in touch with people.

Readers are invited to write a letter to the magazine giving their opinions on how best to keep in touch with friends and family who live nearby and far away, and why it is important to do so.

Write a letter to the magazine.

Remember this C1 Advanced formal letters and emails checklist:

  • Address the recipient correctly. Start with a formal greeting.
  • Use formal vocabulary. Avoid using slang, contractions, or colloquial expressions in formal writing. 
  • Use appropriate linking words and phrases, such as Furthermore,”In addition,” and “Moreover” to connect ideas.
  • Be concise, clear and to the point. Use direct language to convey your message.
  • Close with a formal sign-off.

 

Part ONE Activity 2 Informal connectors

  1. Furthermore – also, and, what’s more, as well
  2. Nonetheless – but, still, anyway
  3. Consequently – so, thus
  4. Hence – so, that’s why
  5. In contrast – but
  6. In conclusion – to sum up

Part TWO Activity 3 Sample formal letter

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in response to your recent article on the importance of staying in touch with family and friends, especially those who live far away. I would like to share my thoughts on this topic and suggest some ways to maintain communication with loved ones.

It is my firm belief that maintaining strong relationships with friends and family is crucial for our well-being and happiness. In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to become disconnected from the people who matter most to us. However, we can overcome this challenge by embracing technology and utilizing various communication tools available to us.

For instance, in order to stay in touch with my friends from college, I often arrange monthly video chats. These calls allow us to catch up on each other’s lives and strengthen our bond despite the distance between us. In addition, I make sure to send regular emails and messages to my family members, even if it is just a simple message to ask how they are doing. Such small gestures can go a long way in maintaining strong relationships.

Moreover, it is important to plan regular visits to family and friends who live nearby, as nothing beats face-to-face interactions. These visits can help us create lasting memories and strengthen our emotional connections.

In conclusion, keeping in touch with loved ones is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. By embracing technology and utilizing various communication tools available to us, we can maintain strong relationships despite the distance between us. 

Thank you for considering my views on this topic.

Yours faithfully, [Your name]

By following today’s tips, you can improve your language control of formal structures and confidently write formal emails or letters in the Writing paper of the Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) exam.

If you are looking for the five grammar structures used in formal text types, check this out: The Big HOW in C1 Formal Writings .

Mastering Formal Language 1

You have done a fair amount of work for today, haven’t you? You’ve started small, with isolated formal words, then you’ve moved on to longer written bits, like formal expressions, clauses and sentences, until you’ve finally written a whole formal letter. Good job!

It’s time you have a break!

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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