Task 1 General – Beginning


Writing the recipient’s name

At the beginning of a letter in English, you first need to write the recipients name. IELTS letters all begin with Dear…., so that is how you will start your letter. How you write the person’s name depends on how well you know them.

  • If the person is a friend, use their first name (informal).
  • If they are someone who you do not know well, use their full name, if you know it, and Sir or Madam, if you don’t (Formal).

In IELTS, you will probably need to create a name for your recipient. Don’t spend too long thinking of a name. John Smith is fine.

This table shows a few examples of how to write someone’s name.

The opening paragraph

Exactly what you need to write in the opening paragraph depends on the tone of your letter.

  • Informal
    • Ask if the person is well.
    • Thank them if they wrote to you first.
    • Explain why you are writing.
  • Formal
    • Explain who you are
    • Thank them if they wrote first
    • Explain why you are writing

This table shows a few examples of sentences that you could write at the beginning of your Task 1.

The most important sentence is the ‘I am writing to…’ sentence. All letters, formal and informal, need a sentence like this. Make sure you know how to write this sentence. Here are a few more examples:

  • I am writing to ask about the car you have advertised in the newspaper.
  • I am writing to complain about the service in your restaurant.
  • I am writing to let you know I need to change my class.
  • I am writing to give you more information about my pet.

Sample introductions

Here is a sample question and a sample first paragraph.

You are organizing a trip overseas for you and a friend. Write your friend a letter giving some details of the trip. In your letter:

  • Explain what your plans are.
  • Tell your friend what they need to pack.
  • Tell your friend exactly when to meet you.

You should write at least 150 words.
You do not need to write you address.
Being you letter as follows:
Dear ……

The letter is to a friend, so it is informal. You need to explain things to your friend, so this is why you are writing.

Here is an example:

Dear John,
How are you going? I hope you are well. I am writing to explain the plans for our trip. I’m so excited about it!

Here is another sample question.

You saw an advertisement for a painting course near your house. You want to do the course, but cannot attend it every week.
Write a letter to your course-director. In your letter:

  • explain why you want to do the course
  • explain why you can’t attend every week
  • find out if you can get a refund

Write at least 150 words.
You do not need to write you address.
Begin you letter as follows:

To answer this, we need to write to a course-director, so this letter is formal. In our opening paragraph we need to explain that we can’t do the course. Here is a sample paragraph:

Dear Sir,
I am writing to ask a few questions about your painting course. I am interested in the course, but cannot attend every lesson.


Task 1 General - Beginning

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