How to write an informal letter or email for New FCE exam

How to write the informal letter or email for the New FCE exam? Here’s a sample topic that has been divided into paragraphs and each of the sections explained. 

Part 2 

You must answer this question. Write your answer in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

 Last week, you organised a surprise birthday party for someone in your family, and your friend from Australia wants to hear about it.  Write an email to your friend, describing what kind of party you organised, who you invited and how it went. Write your letter. Do not write any addresses.

Sample answer:

Dear John,

Thanks for your email- it was great to hear from you. How’s your new job, hope you’re still enjoying it. Apologise for not writing sooner, but I’ve been extremely busy at work for the last few weeks.

You start with Paragraph 1- Introduction
In the introduction you :

– need to use a first name, invent it if it’s not given. Don’t write Dear friend
– start with a fixed phrase showing the situation with the reader
– mention an email or letter you have received from the person you’re writing to or refer to a shared experience or add a general comment
– say what you’ve been doing recently


Phrases you can use in the introduction:

* Many thanks for your letter (- it was really nice to hear from you again)
* I thought I’d better write (and give you some more details about)
* It’s been such a long time since we wrote to each other
* I thought I’d drop you a line…
* How are you and your family?
* How are things with you?
* How was (your holiday)

Do you remember in your email you asked about the party I was organising for my mother’s birthday? Well, it was a fantastic success. I told mother we were taking her out for a quiet meal at a local restaurant, but in fact I’d fired a large room in a hotel and invited all her old friends!

In the 2nd Paragraph you :

– add some specific details to include in each paragraph- this will make your letter more interesting.
– ask a question directly
– use some exclamation marks (but not too many) to express emotions.
– use contractions

Phrases you can use to introduce the topic in the 2nd paragraph:

* I know you’re longing to hear all about (my holiday)
* You remember I told you in my last letter (that I was going to…)

Anyway, I picked mother up and told her I’d changed my mind. We were going to have a meal in a hotel. You should have seen her face when she walked into the room and everyone cheered! She just couldn’t believe it and burst into tears. Then the party got going, and it didn’t finish until four in the morning. We were absolutely exhausted but mother had had wonderful time.

In the 3rd Paragraph you :

– start a new paragraph, as the topic has changed slightly. Use an informal linking expressions.
– use a range of appropriate vocabulary and informal expressions

Must dash now, I’ve got to go and prepare a lecture which I ‘m going to be presenting next Monday. Hope to hear from you soon.

All the best,


In the last paragraph you :

– can use short sentences
– when you close make an excuse to finish and/or refer to the current situation with the reader again
– make sure you finish with an informal phrase
– mention the next time you will see the person you are writing to


Phrases you can use to end the email/ letter

* Once again, ( thanks very much for all your help)
* Give my love/ regards to ( your family)
* Please write/ drop me a line soon.
* I look forward to (meeting up again soon)
* Don’t write Yours sincerely, but rather write: Love. All the best, Best wishes 

Now, it’s your turn. Here’s the topic:

You have decided to go on holiday in the country where your English friend lives. Write a letter to your friend, explaining why you have not written for a while, and asking for advice on where to visit, what to see and the best way of travelling round the country.

You must answer this question. Write your answer in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.


Now, it’s your turn. Here’s another topic:

You have received an email from your pen friend inviting you for a visit in July. Write a letter to your friend, accepting the invitation, suggesting something you would like to do and asking what you should bring with you. 

You must answer this question. Write your answer in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

USEFUL EXPRESSIONS informal writing

Starting Dear … / Hi! / Hello

Refer to a previous letter / email  Thanks for your … / Great to hear from you again.  Thanks for sending me

Introducing news The big news is / Did I tell you that … ?/ I can’t wail!/ Guess what?

Linkers Anyway / But/Apparently / Maybe / By the way/ Unfortunately/ Clearly / Naturally / In fact / To be honest / Before I forget / Incidentally / /All the same / Even so / However

Enclose (with a letter) / Attach (with an email) I’ve attached / enclosed a …

Inviting Will you be able to come? Can you come? I want to invite you to …

Asking for a reply Let me know if you can come. Tell me if you’re coming or not.

Making arrangements I’m available/free on .. When are you available/free? Let’s go together. If you’re interested in .• Let me know which … suit(s) you.
Asking for favours Could you call them/let me know/find out …? Could you do me a favour and  …? I don’t suppose you could … for me?

Asking for additional information Do we need to have a membership card to….? Have you enrolled in …? I was wondering if/whether… You don’t happen to know when/where/if … do you?

Ending I need to go now … Bye for now / Best wishes / Write soon