Informal & Formal E-mail/Letter

Formal email/letter vs informal: what’s the difference?

 

 

The main difference between a formal email/letter and a more casual one is tone. The tone of an email depends on your language choice and syntax. In both formal and casual emails it’s important to be brief, warm and to the point. However, in a casual email, some of the more formal conventions are not required or expected. In particular, the greetings in a formal versus informal email may be different.

 

 

Layout and punctuation of an e-mail

 

 

Starting an email: We normally write a comma after the opening phrase. We start a new line after the name of the person we’re writing to.

 

Finishing an email: We normally write a comma after the closing phrase. We start a new line to write our name at the end.

 

 

Formal
Informal
Dear Mr Piper,
I am writing to thank you for all your help.
I look forward to seeing you next week.
With best wishes,
John Smith
Hi Tim,
Many thanks for your help.
See you next week.
Cheers,
John

 

 

In both cases, it’s ok to move away from old conventions like «dear». However, in an informal email, it is advantageous to use more common language like «hey» as a greeting, wherein a formal email you might opt to choose language like «hello» instead because it is in line with expectations for business situations, and other scenarios where a formal email might be required. The same goes for the sign-off of a formal email versus an informal one.

 

 

Phrases for starting and finishing e-mails

 

Here are some phrases which we use for starting and finishing emails. We use these in formal and informal emails:

 

 

Starting phrases
Dear Tim,
Good morning Tim,
Ending phrases
Regards,
With best wishes,
With many thanks and best wishes,

 

 

You also need to know which phrases to use only in a formal email or an informal one:

 

 

Formal
Informal
Starting phrases
Dear Mr Piper,
Dear Sir or Madam,
Hi Tim,
Hi there Tim,
Morning/Afternoon/Evening Tim,
Hello again Tim,
Ending phrases
*Yours sincerely,
*Yours faithfully,
Yours truly,
Rgds,
Cheers,
Bye for now,
See you soon,

 

 

*Yours sincerely (or just Sincerely) if we know the name; Yours faithfully (or just Faithfully) if we do not. However, many other forms are used today, such as Best Regards and Regards, which can be used in either case.
 

 

 

Layout and punctuation of a letter

 

Have a look at this table to see some suitable greetings, closing remarks, goodbyes and grammar points in Formal and Informal English. This is far from a complete list.

 

 

FORMAL
INFORMAL
GREETINGS
Dear Sir/Madam*,
Dear Mr ____ / Mrs _____
To Whom it May Concern
Hi,
Dear + first name
CLOSING REMARKS
I eagerly await your response
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information
I’m looking forward to hearing from you
Let me know if you need any more information
GOODBYES
Yours faithfully*
Yours sincerely**
Best regards
Kind regards
Love from
From
Best wishes
Hugs and kisses
GRAMMAR
Passive voice
Inversions 
Complex and compound tenses
Conditionals
No contractions (do not, is not)
Phrasal Verbs 
Conditionals
Colloquial language
Adverbios intensificadores
Contractions (don’t, isn’t)

 

 

 

Samples of Informal Email Writing

 

An email written for any friends, family members or relatives comes under this category. Use of polite, friendly and casual words along with proper greetings and closings are some of the rules of the informal emails.

 

 

SAMPLE A

 

 

To: Liz

 

CC/BCC:

 

Subject: Invitation to a birthday party

 

Hi Liz!

 

Hope this mail finds you in the best of your time. I am very happy to invite you to my birthday party on Nov 03 at ABC Hotel from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The theme of the birthday party is ‘Pirate of the Caribbean”.

 

It would be great if you come and join us at the party. We will have a great time and fun together.

 

See You Soon

 

Dana
 

 

 

SAMPLE B

 

 

Subject: Want to carpool to the basketball tournament?

 

Hi Rebekah,

 

I was wondering if you were going to the Raleigh Girls Basketball Tournament that is happening this weekend at Jackson High School. My daughter is playing in the tournament with your daughter, and I thought it could be fun to ride together. It’s environmentally sensible too! Let me know if you’re planning on going by Wednesday and we can make plans to carpool if you’d like.

 

Talk to you soon,

 

Deborah Merrick

 

 

SAMPLE C

 

 

 

A Sample of Semi-formal Email Writing

 

An email written for any teammates or colleague is the semi-formal email. One can use friendly language but have to maintain the limit and the decency. The length, proper greetings and closing and clarity are some of the rules of the semi-formal emails.

 

 

SAMPLE A

 

 

To: Liz

 

CC/BCC:

 

Subject: Intra-college Quiz Competition.

 

Hello Everyone!

 

This is to inform you guys that an intra-college quiz competition is going to be held in our college on Nov 25 from 11:30 am in Hall – 01.
Everyone is therefore asked to take part in the competition so that our department can win.
For further queries, feel free to contact me.

 

Thanks

 

Dana

 

(Class Representative)

 

 

SAMPLE B

 

 

 

A Sample of Formal Email Writing

 

An email written for formal communication or professional use comes under this category. The email written for any school authority, company or any officers are the formal emails. Use of polite and formal words, the reason for writing mail, clarity, proper greeting and closing are some of the rules of the formal email.

 

 

SAMPLE A

 

 

To: XYZ

 

CC/BCC:

 

Subject: Resignation Letter

 

Dear Sir,

 

Please accept this mail as a notice that I am leaving my position with this organization. As per the norm of the company I’ve to give a month notice before resigning. I hope you will get a good replacement for me within this time period.

 

I really appreciate the opportunities that I have been given to me to help me grow. Wish you and the company the best in the future.

 

Please let me know what to expect as far as my final work schedule and the employee benefits. Please let me know in case of any assistance for the above.

 

Kindly look into the matter.

 

Thanks and Regards

 

Dana Smith

 

(Project Head)

 

 

Samples of Informal Letter Writing

 

SAMPLE A

 

 

Samples of Formal Letter Writing

 

 

Be careful as the following is a proof of how you should write a formal letter/email and, most importantly, how you should correct it. Pay attention to the corrected draft.

 

 

SAMPLE A FIRST DRAFT NOT CORRECTED

 

 

Dear Sir /Madam,

 

I am writing to you in connection with the recent decision from the management to close down the sports and the leisure center which I discussed with my colleagues in a meeting where they unanimously opposed the closure of the club. Therefore, they want the decision reconsidered to find some other alternatives to cost cutting.

 

The first reason is that many employees visit leisure club on daily basis for different physical activities as well as mental relaxation. Because,  the games in the club not only keep them physically active but also they get mental relief too so employees after stressful work throughout the day get many psycho physiological benefits which directly or indirectly enhance the productivity of the company. Furthermore, a scientific research has proved that workers having no after-work leisure activities are less productive and creative compared to those engaging in such post-work physical activities.

 

The sales team due to pressure of achieving the target struggle much with their focus on work whereas, the table tennis, swimming in the pool require good amount of concentration which is helpful to develop focus in the sales employees. Many employees after hectic work routine want to socialize with their colleagues in an informal setting where they could share their daily challenges with one another and in my opinion, there is no better place than meeting lobby in the leisure club.

 

Thus, on behalf of the colleagues, I would like to request you to change the decision and find out some possible alternatives to cost saving.

 

I am looking forward hearing from you.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

SAMPLE A CORRECTED DRAFT

 

 

 

SAMPLE B 

 

 

This letter is already corrected.