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An IELTS apology letter

The letter question

You are staying in rented accommodation. You recently held a party to celebrate your birthday. Several neighbours have complained about the noise to your landlord.

Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter:

  1. apologise for the disturbance
  2. explain the situation
  3. say how you will remedy the situation

The model IELTS apology letter

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to apologise for the incident last week when some of my neighbours complained to you. I am most embarrassed about this, because I am normally a quiet person and I do respect the privacy of my neighbours.

The reason for the excessive noise was that it was my 30th birthday party and my girlfriend threw a surprise party for me. She had invited around 20 of my friends to help me celebrate the big day and perhaps she did not realise how much noise would be made by the travelling disco she had hired. I would also explain that after I had got over the shock, I did knock on the door of my immediate neighbours to ask if they wanted to come round and offering to turn the music down after 11 o’clock. Unfortunately, I did not think of inviting the other residents of the block.

Once again, please accept my apologies and rest assured that this situation will not be repeated. I have since personally apologised to my neighbours,  who were all very understanding.

Yours sincerely

Practise writing the letter

Read the lesson

Range of grammar

In this letter, I make a conscious effort to use some different grammatical constructions. Here are a few. You don’t need to use all of these, but it should give you an idea of what can be done:

Tenses and verbs – think about the situation

This letter is mostly about the past. However, it also allows you to write about other times too. What you need to do is think about the general situation of the letter and then you may be able to extend the range of the tenses you use beyond the simple past – sticking to just one tense is the trap.

I am writing to apologise = a standard letter opening phrase

I am normally a quiet person = a simple present (talk about yourself)

it was my 30th birthday party = a simple past

She had invited around 20 of my friends = a past perfect (what had happened before)

how much noise would be made = a modal form (think about unreal situations)

please accept my apologies = a polite imperative

I do respect = an emphatic simple present (good for when you expressing your feelings)

I have since personally apologised = a present perfect (for present

this situation will not be repeated = a future form (good for the final part of the letter when you talk about what you expect to happen next)

Other structures

There is of course much more to grammar than tenses, so you will also find I vary my structures a bit too. Three to note in particular are

who were all very understanding = a relative clause (good for adding detail)

to ask if they wanted to come round = an indirect question structure (often useful in letters when people have said something)

this situation will not be repeated = a passive (sometimes you do not want/need to say who did the action in a letter – this is not a “formal construction”)

Range of vocabulary – idioms and more formal variations in semi-formal letters

Another point to note about this letter is its range of vocabulary. The letter is “semi-formal” in that it is being written to someone in a formal capacity, but it is possible/probable that you have a personal relationship with that person. In this case, you are able to use some more idiomatic vocabulary. You could also take a more formal approach. Both can work in this situation. The one advantage of idioms (and phrasal verbs) is that they allow you to show off your range that little bit more.

threw a surprise party = organised a surprise birthday party

celebrate the big day  = celebrate the occasion

after I had got over the shock = after I had recovered from the shock

I did knock on the door of my immediate neighbours to ask= I did invite my immediate neighbours

to turn the music down = to play the music less loudly

come round = join the party

I did not think of = I did not consider

 

Read the IELTS apology letter  – see the grammar and idiomatic variations

You are staying in rented accommodation. You recently held a party to celebrate your birthday. Several neighbours have complained about the noise to your landlord.

Write a letter to your landlord. In your letter:

  1. apologise for the disturbance
  2. explain the situation
  3. say how you will remedy the situation

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to apologise for the incident last week when some of my neighbours complained to you. I am most embarrassed about this, because I am normally a quiet person and I do respect the privacy of my neighbours.

The reason for the excessive noise was that it was my 30th birthday party and my girlfriend threw a surprise party for me. She had invited around 20 of my friends to help me celebrate the big day and perhaps she did not realise how much noise would be made by the travelling disco she had hired. I would also explain that after I had got over the shock, I did knock on the door of my immediate neighbours to ask if they wanted to come round and offering to turn the music down after 11 o’clock. Unfortunately, I did not think of inviting the other residents of the block.

Once again, please accept my apologies and rest assured that this situation will not be repeated. I have since personally apologised to my neighbours,  who were all very understanding.

Yours sincerely

Read the letter – see some less idiomatic variations

Dear Mr Jones

I am writing to apologise for the incident last week when some of my neighbours complained to you. I am most embarrassed about this, because I am normally a quiet person and I do respect the privacy of my neighbours.

The reason for the excessive noise was that it was my 30th birthday party and my girlfriend organised a surprise party for me. She had invited around 20 of my friends to help me celebrate the occasion and perhaps she did not realise how much noise would be made by the travelling disco she had hired. I would also explain that after I had recovered from the shock, I did knock on the door of my immediate neighbours to ask if they wanted to join the party and offering to play the music less loudly after 11 o’clock. Unfortunately, I did not consider inviting the other residents of the block.

Once again, please accept my apologies and rest assured that this situation will not be repeated. I have since personally apologised to my neighbours,  who were all very understanding.

Yours sincerely

 

Test yourself

Part of the challenge of  letters is deciding whether you are going to use more formal or less formal language. These two exercises should help you to see how you can do it:

 

More IELTS letters and advice

How to like it, share it and save it

   

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9 Responses to An IELTS apology letter

  1. Dominic's Fans January 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    Once again, Thank you so much for this great General IELTS (Task one).

    Just one more idiomatic expression I want to point out, coz I don’t understand it at first and probably most of us can’t recognize it as well. Here it is:

    rest assured==rest easy

    Cheers

    Your Fans

  2. grateful January 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Excellent lesson. Loads of material out there for the Academic exam, but so little for The General Exam. Much appreciated.

  3. marveltracker January 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Great work

  4. Dinaz January 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Donminic – one part of the question is how will you remedy the situation as in the future after it has happen –

    is it enough to say the one sentence that you have personally apologized to the neighbors since the incident—–

    • Dominic Cole January 20, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      I also say that it will not happen again. It’s a good question though. You don’t have to cover all the points in the letter equally – 50 words, 50 words, 50 words – it is natural that you may have more to write about some points than others.

      The letter structure makes it clear that I am covering all the point. Para 1 = apology. Para 2 = explanation (almost certainly going to be the biggest bit). Para 3 = what I will do.

  5. Dinaz January 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Again i have a problem with the beginning where you write the neighbors complained about the noise —and then in the conclusion – the neighbors were most understanding —–is that not a bit contradictory ?

  6. Dinaz January 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    okay on re reading I understand – the personal apology – made them understanding.
    I get that point now.

    I struggle more with the letter than the essay and so i am very pleased to see you post lessons on that as well.

    Thanks !

    • Dominic Cole January 20, 2012 at 12:10 am #

      Not surprised. The letter doesn’t really belong in IELTS (or any language exam for that matter) if you ask me. When was the last time you wrote a letter i your own language. Life has moved on (texting/emails). The letter is very 20th century and arguably 19th century!!

      In a sense though the main point of the lesson is to treat the letter in exactly the same way as you would treat an essay. It’s marked in the same way.

  7. shyam May 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    thanks….

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