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A basic guide to writing letters in English | Nieuws


Freelance English Language Trainer


Open University UK


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Some basic rules to use when writing a letter/e-mail in English. Some useful phrases and one or two rules.

Think of a basic business letter in three steps:
  1. Introduction - The reason for writing
The introduction helps the reader understand in which context the letter should be considered. Possibilities include job interview inquires, business opportunity requests, complaints, and more. Of course, each type of business letter has its own standard phrases.
  1. Details - What you would like to accomplish
The detail section of a business letter is extremely important. This is where you achieve your goals in writing a business letter.
  1. Conclusion / Next Steps - What you would like to happen in the future
Provide a call for future action. This can be a chance to talk in person, a follow-up letter or more. It's important and expected to make it clear what you would like for the next step from the person reading your business letter.
The Start
The start of any business letter begins by addressing the recipient of the letter.
Dear Personnel Director,
Dear Sir or Madam: (use if you don't know who you are writing to)
Dear Dr, Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms Smith: (use if you know who you are writing to, and have a formal relationship with them)  
Dear Frank: (use if the person is a close business contact or friend)

The Reference
Begin by referencing a specific conversation or other contact means. If this is the first letter in a conversation, you can also provide the reason for writing.
Thank you for your letter of March 5 th.
With reference to
your advertisement in the Times,
your letter of 23 rd March,
your phone call today,

If it is required you can also introduce yourself at the beginning.

The Reason for Writing

I am writing to...
... enquire about    I am writing to enquire about a job in your company.
... apologize for    I am writing to apologize for the bad service you received.
... confirm             I am writing to confirm that I will be attending the conference.
... apply for           I am writing to apply for a place on your course.

* Beginning a letter with ‘I’ is not impolite and normal practice in English correspondence

I am writing to enquire about the position posted in The Daily Mail.
I am writing to confirm the shipment details on order no. 2346.
I am writing to apologize for the difficulties you experienced last week in our shop.

Once you have introduced the reason for writing your business letter, move on to stating more specifically the purpose of your letter. Here are a number of possibilities:

Could you possibly?      Could you possibly send me your price list?
I would be grateful if you could...      I would be grateful if you could arrange a meeting.

Agreeing to Requests
I would be delighted to    I would be delighted to send you details of....
I would be happy to          I would be happy to arrange a meeting.
Giving Bad News
Unfortunately           Unfortunately the package got lost in the post.
I am afraid that         I am afraid that we have no vacancies at the moment.

Enclosing Documents
I am enclosing                  I am enclosing my c.v.
Please find enclosed         Please find enclosed my c.v.

Closing Remarks
Thank you for your help.  Please contact us again if
we can help in any way.
there are any problems.
you have any questions.

Reference to Future Contact
I look forward to ... + ‘ing’   
I look forward to hearing from you / meeting you.

The Finish
Yours faithfully, (If you don't know the name of the person you're writing to - formal)
Yours sincerely, (If you know the name of the person you're writing to - formal)
Best regards; kind regards (If the person is a close business contact or friend - more informal)
Cheers! (someone you know well - very informal)


Over jill child

I have done a personal training Cambridge Business Benchmark English with Jill and it has been really helpful.


Wilhelminalaan 58 6042 EP Roermond
T+31 (0) 615053316 Einfo@jillchild.nl