A holiday competition letter

This is the next in my series of sample IELTS letters for general training IELTS. In the lesson below I focus on how to write a letter using informal language. I talk you through 6 different ways to write informally and then show you an informal letter and analyse the informal language in it.

The question – a holiday competition letter

You won a competition and received a vacation for two as a prize. Write a letter to ask them to go on holiday with you. In the letter, you should:

  • tell him/her about the competition you won,
  • state what kind of vacation it is,
  • explain why you would like him/her to go on holiday with you

My model answer

Dear Pablo,

 I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you. Guess what? I’ve won a holiday for two people in a competition. I do hope that you can come with me.

All I had to do to win the competition was write a slogan for a local travel agency. My winning submission was “Fly LTC and see the world”. As I said, my prize is a holiday and it is a cruise around the Mediterranean for a fortnight. The ship is the latest luxury liner and has all sorts ofentertainment facilities including a swimming pool, a cinema complex and onboard tennis courts. It sounds as if it should be great fun.

I really hope that you are available sometime this summer. I’d love it if you could come with me, as it sounds just your cup of tea and you could always act as an interpreter for me when we get to Spain!

I need to book the cruise quite soon, so just drop me a line if you are free.

All the best

Angela

You should understand from this question that you need to make the letter informal as you are writing to a friend and that the key vocabulary you need relates to holidays.

Write the letter yourself

Learn how to write an informal letter like this

Get the lesson

Making the letter more informal

Here are some tips on how to make your letters more informal. The general idea is that your more informal writing should look a little like speech:

Short forms

In more formal academic writing, you should never use short forms, but you can (and perhaps should) in this type of letter. So

I have = I’ve

I am = I’m

I will = I’ll

It is/It has = It’s

Pronouns – being personal

In more formal/academic writing, we normally avoid using first and second person pronouns and tend to use more impersonal language. In more informal letters, it is generally best to be as personal as possible:

It seems like a sensible idea = I think it’s a good idea

One thing to do would be = You should try

Sentence length and direct questions

In more formal/academic writing, you should avoid very short sentences. In this type of writing, you can use some very short sentences – often this works best with direct questions. Be a little careful with this, however. You also need to include longer and more complex sentences as well to show that you variety of grammar. Here are some possibilities for you to consider:

How about it?

What do you think?

Idioms and phrasal verbs

Normally, when we are writing more formally, we avoid using idioms and phrasal verbs as they are more typical of spoken language. It is, however, quite possible to use some idioms and phrasal verbs in less formal letters. Here are some phrasal verbs you could use:

visit = drop by or come round

investigate = look into

manage = get by

meet/find = come across

Vocabulary choice

In more formal/academic writing, there are some words we normally avoid using, but which you can use in this less formal type of writing. These words are either very simple general use words or imprecise words:

get = more formally “become” or “receive” or “obtain”

great = “excellent”

really = “extremely”

thing = object/activity

sort of = “type of”

Direct language and politeness

If you are writing a more formal letter, you need to be careful that it is appropriately polite. When you are writing to a friend, however, you do not need to be so polite. Typically, when we are polite we use more indirect language, but with friends we are much more direct and can even use imperative forms. So for example:

I would like = I want

I would be grateful if you could come = Please come

Dear Pablo,

I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you. Guess what? I’ve won a holiday for two people in a competition. I do hope that you can come with me.

All I had to do to win the competition was write a slogan for a local travel agency. My winning submission was “Fly LTC and see the world”. As I said, my prize is a holiday and it is a cruise around the Mediterranean for a fortnight. The ship is the latest luxury liner and has all sorts of entertainment facilities including a swimming pool, a cinema complex and onboard tennis courts. It sounds as if it should be great fun.

I really hope that you are available sometime this summer. I’d love it if you could come with me, as it sounds just your cup of tea and you could always act as an interpreter for me when we get to Spain!

I need to book the cruise quite soon, so just drop me a line if you are free.

All the best

Angela

Notes

I’ve got = I have

really = extemely

Guess what! = a very short sentence you shouldn’t use in more formal writing

I’ve = short form of I have

all sorts of = very imprecise language, more formally “a wide variety of”

be great fun = more formally “very entertaining/enjoyable”

I really hope = we almost never use “really” in more formal writing

I’d love it = more formally ” I would very much appreciate it if you could”

your cup of tea = an idiom meaning “what you enjoy most’

you could always act as an interpreter for me when we get to Spain! = note the exclamation mark which makes this more informal

so just drop me a line = another idiom. in a more formal letter, this would be “Please let me know if”

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5 Responses to A holiday competition letter

  1. nik September 15, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    gud solution

  2. Sean August 21, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Nice tutorial

  3. deep November 9, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    wow,good response

  4. Long May 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    Is it ok to use short forms in the letter?

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