IELTS Semi-Formal Letter: Important Topics, Ways to Write, Samples and More

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IELTS Semi-Formal Letter: Semi-formal letters in IELTS require test takers to write letters responding to someone whom they do not know personally but have a formal relation to. These letters are neither excessively formal nor overly informal. It occupies a neutral middle ground in terms of tone and vocabulary.


 This makes it suitable for various situations where you communicate with individuals you know on a personal level, but not well enough for a casual approach. This includes colleagues, neighbours, or acquaintances. The goal of a semi-formal letter in IELTS  is to be clear, concise, and professional while maintaining a respectful and courteous tone towards the recipient. That being said, read the complete article to learn more about IELTS Semi-Formal letters. 

How to Write A Semi-Formal Letter in IELTS General Writing Task 1? 

Mastering the art of writing semi-formal letters in the IELTS General test can be challenging, but with preparation and practice, one can easily ace the task. Understanding what examiners value in a semi-formal letter is crucial. Here’s a helpful tip for IELTS General test-takers: when writing your letter, remember to include these essential elements:

  • Formal structure: Maintain a professional layout with clear sections like sender’s address, date, recipient’s address, salutation, body paragraphs, closing salutation, and signature.
  • Appropriate tone: Strike a balance between formality and informality. Avoid overly casual language or slang, but maintain a natural and respectful tone.
  • Clear organization: Structure your letter logically with a clear introduction, body paragraphs addressing the main points, and a concise conclusion.
  • Grammatically correct: Ensure your writing is free of grammatical errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes.
  • Relevant vocabulary: Use vocabulary appropriate for the semi-formal context, avoiding overly complex words or jargon.

What Should a Semi-Formal Letter in IELTS Include? 

Whilst writing a semi-formal letter in IELTS, one must ensure that: 

  1. Their introductions do not sound too formal or informal. 
  2. They use formal vocabulary throughout their answer. 
  3. The letter should have a personal touch of the writer, i.e., the tonality of the letter should be kept personal. 
  4. While “suggest” and “recommend” are appropriate for making suggestions in semi-formal writing, they may not always offer the desired level of formality or informality. Instead, you can use: 
  • May I propose: This phrase introduces a suggestion politely and formally.
  • I would venture to suggest that this option conveys a suggestion with a slightly more tentative tone.
  • It might be worth considering: This phrasing presents an idea for someone to mull over.
  • Why not…? This informal phrase conversationally introduces a suggestion.
  • What about…? This simple option offers an alternative for someone to consider.
  • Have you thought of…? This phrase opens the door for someone to share their existing thoughts on a proposed idea.

What Should You Avoid While Writing a Semi-Formal Letter in IELTS? 

You should avoid the following whilst writing a Semi-Formal letter in IETLS. 

  1. Do not use vocabulary that is too formal. For example, avoid using phrases such as ‘‘It would be greatly appreciated if…’.
  2. Do not use language that sounds too informal. 
  3. Do not use abbreviations or slang in IELTS semi-formal letters. 

Most Common IELTS Semi-Formal Letter Writing Topics With Sample Questions

In the IELTS General Writing Task 1, semi-formal letters are used for communication with individuals you have a connection with but not a close personal relationship. 

These situations typically involve:

  • Professional contexts: Write to colleagues, managers, or external contacts you haven’t met in person.
  • Formal complaints or requests: Addressing issues like noisy neighbours, faulty products, or requesting adjustments from service providers.
  • Letters of recommendation: Writing on behalf of someone you know well in a professional or academic context.

That being said, to help you understand what these tasks entail, we have listed some of the most common IELTS Semi-Formal letter-writing topics in the IELTS General Test. 

Arranging Accommodation

You wish to pursue your higher education abroad and want to book a student accommodation in London. You need a place to stay while you are there. Write a letter to the provider. In your letter:

  • explain the situation
  • describe the kind of accommodation you would like
  • provide the dates you will need it

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Mr/Ms_______,

You should write at least 150 words. You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

Asking for Permission

You are studying overseas. You need to return to your country before the end of the semester for a wedding. Write a letter to your university supervisor. In your letter:

  • Request time off
  • Explain why you need to leave early
  • Reassure him / her that your studies will not suffer

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Mr / Ms _______

Complaining to a Landlord

You have been living in a rental apartment for the past few months. There is water seepage in your room and the issue hasn’t been fixed till now. Write a letter complaining about this to the landlord. In your letter:

  • explain the situation
  • describe why it bothers you
  • suggest a solution

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Mr / Ms _____________,

Making a Suggestion

You have been visiting the same restaurant for the past couple of years. Recently, there has been a change in the staff and management. You have noticed that there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of food and service since the change of staff. Write a letter to the manager. In your letter: 

  • explain who you are
  • describe the problem exactly
  • make suggestions to improve the restaurant 

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Mr____,

Explaining to a Neighbour

You are having a graduation party next Saturday night. You have invited 50 people to celebrate at an outdoor barbecue evening, which may continue late into the night. Write a letter to your elderly neighbour. In your letter:

  • explain what will be happening
  • offer your apologies in advance
  • invite her to join the celebration

Begin your letter as follows: Dear Mr / Ms _________

You should write at least 150 words. You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

Letter of Complaint

You have a complaint about the staff of the hotel you stayed at while. Write a letter to the hotel manager stating: 

  • What problem did you face there?
  • Why do you want to complain about it?
  • What is your suggestion for improvement in the future?

Top Phrases For IELTS Semi-Formal Letter

While vocabulary proficiency is certainly important for the IELTS General Writing Task 1 (Letter Writing), a single, definitive list isn’t available. However, understanding commonly used phrases and expressions can significantly enhance your communication and potentially improve your score in the IELTS Letter writing task. Therefore, we have enlisted some of the most commonly used phrases and vocabulary for IELTS Semi-formal letters below. Have a look. 

Maintaining ToneGreeting/SalutationOpeningBody Closing Signing Off
I would be grateful if… (formal request)
I would appreciate it if… (polite request)
I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. I look forward to your response. (anticipated response)
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. (openness to communication)
Dear Mr./Ms, 
Dear [Title] [Last Name]. 
Dear Sir or Madam (formally)
I am writing to… (informative)
I am writing to inquire about… (inquiry)
I am writing to express my interest in… (application)
I am writing to request… (request)
I am writing to inform you that… (information)
I am writing to… / The purpose of this letter is to…
The reason for my writing is… / I am writing to you because…
I would like to suggest… / I recommend that…
 I would be grateful if you could… / Could you please…?
 It has come to my attention that… / I am writing to inform you that…
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I appreciate your time and attention to this matter.
Sincerely, Yours, 
Faithfully (more formal), 
Best regards,
 Kind regards
Best wishes
All the best

5+ Tips to Use Phrases in IELTS Semi-Formal Letter 

Phrases play a pivotal role in IELTS Letter Writing. In other words, having a good grasp of vocabulary and phrases can bolster your chances of securing better scores in IELTS letter writing. Here are some tips for using phrases in IELTS Letter Writing. 

  • Prioritize Clarity and Conciseness in IELTS Letter Writing. While a wide vocabulary can be a plus, clear and concise communication is key in IELTS letter writing. Your goal should be accurate and relevant phrasing that effectively conveys your message within the word limit. This means favouring clarity and accuracy over overly complicated words or uncommon terms. 
  • Mastering simpler phrases can significantly improve your score, demonstrating your ability to communicate directly and effectively.
  • Before writing, understand the purpose of the letter and your relationship with the recipient. This will guide your choice of appropriate phrases.
  • While a variety of phrases showcases your vocabulary range, avoid overly complex and potentially unnatural language. Additionally, overusing phrases can hinder your response’s effectiveness.
  • Prioritize accurate and contextually relevant phrases over complex or fancy ones.
  • Linking phrases like “in addition,” “moreover,” “however,” and “consequently” can connect ideas smoothly.
  • Transition phrases like “to begin with,” “on the other hand,” and “in conclusion” can signal shifts in tone or direction.
  • By focusing on clear communication and using these strategies effectively, you can demonstrate strong language skills and potentially improve your IELTS score.

IELTS Writing General Task 1: Semi-Formal Letter Sample (with Answers) 

 Here are some sample letters that you can refer to in order to get a better understanding of the IELTS Writing General Task 1. 

Sample Semi-Formal Letter #1

You work for a MNC. You have seen an advertisement for a training course for digital marketing which will be useful for your job.

Write a letter to your manager. In your letter

  • describe the training course you want to do
  • explain what the company could do to help you
  • say how the course will be useful for your job

“Dear Mr Abhinav,

I came across an advertisement for a Digital Marketing training course that I believe would significantly benefit my professional development and, consequently, the company’s success.

The course covers a comprehensive range of digital marketing topics, from social media marketing to the ever-increasingly important SEO optimization. It’s designed to equip professionals in our industry with the skills to leverage digital marketing strategies for brand expansion and customer acquisition.

I am confident that gaining deeper knowledge in this area would enable me to enhance my skill set, ultimately benefiting the company. By mastering social media marketing techniques, I am confident in my ability to drive revenue growth and share this expertise with colleagues in my department.

Considering the valuable job-related skills this program offers, I kindly request that the company cover the associated costs, including the course fees and some additional travel expenses.I appreciate your time and consideration of this request.

Yours sincerely,


Sample Semi-Formal Letter #2

“You have watched a film at a movie theatre and have had a terrible experience. Write a letter to the manager of the theatre informing about your horrible experience and that you wish to have a refund. State the following points in your letter:

  • Describe what exactly happened. 
  • What do you want to happen?
  • Request for a refund

To the manager,

I am writing to express my disappointment with my experience at your theatre while watching a film I saw last night..

My recent experience at your theatre on [date] was unfortunately marred by a series of issues. Upon entering the auditorium, I discovered that the seats were in a deplorable state, visibly dirty and unkempt. When I brought this to the attention of the staff, their response was surprisingly brusque and dismissive. Despite my attempts to rectify the situation, no one seemed inclined to address the issue, forcing me to endure the entire film while perched on an unclean seat.

Beyond the unacceptable state of the auditorium, the food service also fell short of expectations. My order for a large caramel popcorn was nowhere to be found throughout the film, arriving only after the credits rolled. Unfortunately, the quality of the food matched the delayed service. The popcorn was stale and devoid of any caramel flavour, rendering it practically inedible. Despite voicing my disappointment to the staff, my concerns were met with apathy, not to mention an inappropriate level of ridicule for raising the issue.

This experience was entirely unacceptable, and I would like to request a full refund of the amount paid. I would also suggest that your staff not promise customers degrees of service that they are unable to provide in order to avoid disappointing experiences such as these.

Shubham Das” 

So that was all about IELTS Semi-Formal letter writing. We hope the blog could’ve answered your queries regarding the topic. 

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Q1. What are the common IELTS semi-formal letter writing topics? 

Ans: Some of the most common topics for IELTS semi-formal letters are: Arranging Accommodation, asking for permission, making a suggestion, and complaint letter. 

Q2. How to get 8.0 in IELTS Writing?

Ans: Test takers can use a range of linkers, adverbial phrases, references, and punctuations to bolster their overall scores in IELTS writing. 

Q3. What is the duration of the IELTS Letter Writing Task? 

Ans: The IELTS General Writing Task 1 (Letter Writing) requires individuals to complete the task within 20 minutes. 

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