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Practical English Usage, Writing
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Practical English Usage
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The Tone and Language of a Letter
The tone of a letter reflects the attitude of the writer to the addressee and the relationship between them. Using the appropriate words, sentences and set formulas are essential in setting the right tone.
Care should be taken regarding the use of the right form of salutation or greeting. A wrong salutation like ‘My Dear Miss Sullivan’ instead of ‘Dear Miss Sullivan’ to just an acquaintance or ‘Dear Gupta’ instead of ‘Dear Mr Gupta’ to a friend of your parent will give a wrong signal of over-familiarity or disrespect.
Requests for Reply
If you ask for a reply, make sure to frame your request courteously so that it will sound as a real request and not a demand. In an informal letter you can use one of the following expressions:
I will be glad to hear from you. Just drop a letter when you have time.
In a semi-formal letter, you can write any one of the following expressions.
I shall look forward to hearing from you as soon as you have the time to write.
In a formal letter you may write:
It would be much appreciated if you could inform me at the earliest.
Whatever be the kind of letter, do not use expressions like ‘Kindly reply immediately’ or ‘I expect your answer within a week’. These expressions sound like orders despite using the word kindly.Apologies
If you fail to carry out any promise, instruction or request you may want to apologize. In an informal letter, write: I am really/terribly/truly/so sorry that I could not come.
In a semi-formal letter you may use the following expressions:
I am very sorry that I did not come.
In a formal letter write:
I very much regret my failure to attend.
Do not be excessively humble in your apologies. Also do not use such subscriptions as ‘Yours Obediently’, ‘Yours Respectfully’ or ‘I remain your obedient servant’. These expressions are no longer used.
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