What is the difference between formal and informal letters in English?
Today we are going to examine the difference between formal letters and informal letters in English. Writing a letter in any formats has certain conditions that must be met. These conditions become a bit more specific when the language is English.
There can be different types of English letters, but they are generally divided into formal and informal forms, whose features were explained in another article.
In this article, we examine the difference between formal and informal letters in English and in the following issues:
C: The Start of a letter
D: Text and letter content
E: The end
Difference between formal and informal letters in English:
When it comes to letter writing, it can be a bit different from one language to another. So, first let’s see what a formal letter is in English Formal letters are the ones that are written to be used in formal situations such as official places, companies and organizations, and need to follow the rules of formality, including word choice, grammar, length and …, while informal letters are usually exchanged between friends not in relations with any of those officials places.It will not be that hard to distinguish formal English letters form the informal since all the language components were accurately defined.
The difference in address format
In informal letters
It is important to write the address in either formal or informal letters in English, what you can not see in Persian language as an example. In informal letters, however, the address is written on the top right. Don’t forget to include the name of the country where you live in the letter.
In formal letters
In formal English letters, sender’s address must be written on the top left. However, companies and organizations usually prefer to have their names and logos on the top middle so then date must come to the right.
In both English letters, formal and informal, recipient’s address is written on envelope. However, the sender has the choice of writing the address a bit lower than his or her address on the letter sheet.
Date usually comes under recipient’s address. You can write history with a space line. The difference in date format is another thing that can be varied even in English countries and between companies so the order defined by the authority must be followed in letters. Usually day, month and year are written. Sometimes just writing a day and a month is enough.
American Letter: November 22, 2011
English Letter content
In both forms of English letters, you can write use the following format:
The first paragraph includes the reason why you write the letter. You are expected to have an important aim while writing a letter. Even if you write your letters electronically, in English these are the rules that you are supposed to follow.
The second paragraph is to explain what has been already said in the first paragraph in detail. The difference between the first and second paragraph is normal as they play a different role in English letters, no matter it is formal or informal. As the second tip in English letters, do go for details in the second paragraph, not the first. Most of time you point out the main idea in the first paragraph, but for further detail you need to come to the second paragraph. You do so to just let your audience know what the topic and objective are and then direct him/her to the second paragraph to read about in detail.
The last paragraph wraps up what has been mentioned above, in the two first paragraphs. To sum up, you go for key ideas and points having mentioned before. But, the one of the things can make the difference between English formal and informal letters is the style.
But the difference in style:
What shows the difference between formal and informal English letters are tone and length. In English letters, when you write in a friendly way, in the vernacular, such as asking the recipient questions as spoken English like “How are you?” or “What have you been up to lately?”. However, in formal letters, aim has to be clarified, and the topic needs to be explained as concisely as possible.
Using titles including Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs are what are commonly used in formal English letters whereas you can freely say whatever you would like depending on how friendly your relationship with the audience is.
You should end up your speech wrapping up what you have said before. Also, you can repeat the key notes and important requests again in the final paragraph of your letters, and clarify how you expect the audience to respond you. The last sentences in informal English letters are friendly.
- I can’t wait to see you soon, dady.
- I can’t wait to hear from you, honey.
This is the last part of a letter. In formal English letters, you must write your name in full. Plus, it is also common to use titles and job position. Upon your taste, however, you can finish the letter even with your first name at the end.
Comparison Chart: formal and informal letters in English
|BASIS FOR COMPARISON||FORMAL LETTERS||INFORMAL LETTERS|
|Meaning||A formal letter is a letter, written in formal language, in the stipulated format, for official purpose.||A letter written in an friendly manner, to someone you are familiar with, is called informal letter.|
|Objective||Professional Communication||Personal Communication|
|Format||Written in prescribed format only.||No prescribed format.|
|Written in||First person – Business letters, third person – others.||First, second or third person.|
|Written to||Business, college/institute, employer, organizations, etc.||Friends, family, acquaintances etc.|
|Sentences||Long and complex||Short and simple|
|Size||Concise||Large or concise|
|Contractions and Abbreviations||Avoided||Used|
What have been said:
What the difference in English formal and informal letters is, and what should be taken into account while each kind of letter is written are we mainly focused. For further studies, click here.
For further studies:
- Sentence structure in English
- Sentence structure in English
- Eleven Tips to improve English writing skills
- The importance of learning and teaching in the Holly Quran