How to start and end IELTS letters

How to start and end IELTS letters

Tips and useful phrases for IELTS General Task 1 opening greetings, opening lines, closing lines, closing greetings, and name at the end, including opening and closing both formal IELTS letters and informal IELTS letters

Although you will mainly be graded on the body of your IELTS General Task 1 letter, work on starting and ending can help you quickly and smoothly complete those parts. It will also show the examiner that you have a good range of language, that you can distinguish formal language from informal language, and that you are following the instructions and writing a letter (not an email, an article, etc). As the starting and ending are much more fixed than the body of the letter, they are also the easiest parts to improve. This article gives advice and language for opening and closing all kinds of IELTS letter quickly, correctly and even impressively.

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How to start IELTS letters

Opening greetings in IELTS letters

The very start of IELTS letters is very easy, because the tasks always say “Begin your letter as follows: Dear Sir or Madam,” or “Begin your letter as follows: Dear…,”

“Dear Sir or Madam,” can never change and is always followed by a formal letter.

“Dear…,” can be “Dear + first name,” followed by an informal letter. For example, you can start with “Dear Jane,” if you are writing to a friend or someone else you know such as your line manager. Less commonly, “Dear…,” can also be made into “Dear + title + family name,” followed by a formal letter, for example when writing to someone famous or applying to work in someone’s house with “Dear Mr Jones,”.

You must always follow the instructions and use the opening greeting that is given, even when other forms like “Hi + first name,” seem more natural. Similarly, you should always end with the comma that is given even when other forms might be okay in real life (“Dear Sir or Madam,” not “Dear Sir or Madam” and not “Dear Sir or Madam:”).

After the opening greeting with “Dear”, you need either a blank line or an indent. An indent is traditional in letters but a blank line is more modern, is clearer, and leaves more room for editing, so an indent or a blank are both fine.


Opening lines in IELTS letters

After an opening greeting with “Dear” and a blank line or indent, you need one or two sentences before you start completing what the three bullet points in the task tell you to do in the body of the letter.

For most formal letters, the opening is simply the topic of the letter/ reason for writing, with sentences such as “I am writing to you regarding/ concerning/ with regards to/ in order to/ due to…”

For informal letters to friends etc, you should start with something friendlier before you get down to business. This should usually be either mentioning previous contact or a small talk question. The most useful informal letter opening lines include (with optional parts in brackets):

  • (It was) so nice to get your letter.
  • (It was so) lovely to hear from you (again).
  • How’s… going?
  • (I) was so thrilled to get your letter (telling me that…)
  • How are you getting on with…?
  • Hope… is going okay.
  • (It) was great to see you (again) last month.
  • Long time no see! How have you been (since we last met)?
  • How are you doing?
  • Hope you’re enjoying…

In formal IELTS letters we never need an equivalent to small talk like “I hope this letter finds you well”, but phrases mentioning the last contact like “Thank you for your letter concerning…” or “Thank you for talking to me last week regarding…” are sometimes useful.

“Thanks again for…” can also sometimes be useful.

After the opening line, you need another indent or blank line (the same as after the opening greeting) before the body.


How to end IELTS letters

After the opening greeting, the opening line, and three body paragraphs, you need to smoothly end the letter. Both formal and informal IELTS letters should end with three parts, which I call “closing line”, “closing greeting”, and “name at the end”, all divided by blank lines or indents.


Closing lines in IELTS letters

Almost all formal IELTS letters should end with a sentence mentioning future contact, most commonly a request for a reply or offering more help if needed, as in:

  • I look forward to hearing from you (soon).
  • If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  • Should you have any questions regarding…, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  • Please let me know if that is okay/ if that is acceptable with you.

Mentioning future contact closing lines for informal letters include:

  • Looking forward to hearing from you.
  • Write soon!
  • If you need any (more) info, drop me a line anytime.
  • Please let me know if there’s anything (else) that I can do to help.
  • If anything isn’t clear, just let me know.
  • Looking forward to seeing you then/ soon/…
  • Hope we have the chance to meet again soon.
  • Can’t wait to see you again!
  • Keep in touch!

Just mentioning that a reply is needed is sometimes not enough with a big request. Instead, you can use formal or informal “Thank you…” phrases like:

  • Any assistance you could provide in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Cheers.
  • Thanks a lot.

Other useful closing lines include:

  • Good luck with…
  • Hope… (“Hope that helps”, “Hope you have a good weekend”, etc)
  • Have a good…
  • I hope… (“I hope these views are of interest to you”, etc)
  • Once again, thank you for…/ Thanks again for…


Closing greetings in IELTS letters

After one or two closing sentences, you then need a phrase that acts like “bye” does in speech.

Formal closing greetings are decided by the opening greeting. “Yours faithfully,” only ends letters starting with “Dear Sir or Madam,” while “Yours sincerely,” only ends letters starting with “Dear Mr/ Ms/ Mrs + family name,”. “Sincerely yours,” and “Best regards,” are correct in both kinds of letter, but it’s best to show off that you know the more difficult ones if you can.

The most informal greeting in informal letters at work is probably “Best wishes,” or “Best,”. Letters to friends could also end with more affectionate closing greetings like “Lots of love” and “Hugs and kisses”.

To show that this is a letter and not an email, you should avoid modern abbreviations like “CU” for “See you”. As with the examples given here, you should use a comma after the closing greeting to match the comma after the opening greeting (“Dear John,” and “Best wishes,”, etc).


Your name at the end of IELTS letters

How you write your name at the end also depends on the formality of the letter. Formal letters with “Yours…” etc should end with first name or initial(s) + family name, perhaps with your title in brackets, as in:

  • Alex Case (Mr)
  • A. Case (Ms.)

Informal letters should end with just a first name, shortened if you like, as in:

  • Alex
  • Al



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