Standard phrases used in formal letters

There are some standard phrases that are used in business or formal letters. These are essential to give a professional tone to your letter.

The beginning

A formal letter must always begin by addressing the recipient. Common ways of addressing people are:

Dear Principal (This style is preferred when you know the designation of the person you are writing to.)

Dear Sir / Dear Madam / Dear Sir or Madam (This is used when you do not know the name or designation of the person you are writing to.)

Dear Ms. Hopkins (Use Ms. for women if you do not know whether she is married or not. If you are certain that she is married, use Mrs. If you are certain that she is unmarried, you may use Miss.)

Dear Dr.

Dear Mathews (Use this if the person you are writing to is a close business contact.)


If it is possible, write to a specific person. For example, a letter that begins Dear Mr. Mathews may yield better results than one that begins Dear Sir.

Body of the letter

Begin the letter by making a reference to a conversation you have already had with the recipient of your letter. If yours is the first letter in a conversation, start by providing the reason for writing.

Standard phrases are:

With reference to your letter of January 3rd

With reference to your advertisement in the Times of India dated 12th December, 2011

With reference to your phone call today

With reference to the telephonic conversation we had yesterday

The Reason for Writing

Standard phrases used are:

I am writing this letter to inquire about ....

I am writing this letter to inform you that ...

I am writing this letter to apologize for ....

I am writing this letter to confirm that ....

I am writing this letter to apply for .....

Examples are given below

I am writing to inquire about the job vacancy advertised in the Hindustan Times of January 5th.

I am writing this letter to apologize for the delay in shipping your order placed on December 19th, 2011.

I am writing to confirm the shipment details of your order placed on ...

Call for action

You have now explained the reason for writing your letter. The next step is to state the specific purpose - what you want to achieve by writing - of your letter.

Standard phrases are:

I would be grateful if you could ....

Could you possibly ....

Closing remarks

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you for your consideration

Feel free to write if you have any questions.

Feel free to contact us again if we can help in any way.

Call for future action

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

We look forward to seeing you next week.

Enclosing Documents

I am enclosing ...

Please find enclosed ...

Enclosed you will find ....

Sections in this article

Acceptance letter sample
Business letter writing tips
How to Write an Apology Letter
Business Apology Letter Sample I
Personal Apology Letter Sample I
Email writing tips
Resume writing
How to write a cover letter
How to write a letter of enquiry
Standard phrases used in formal letters

Formal letter writing

Address and date
Body of the letter
Subscription or leave-taking
The Tone and Language of a Letter
Personal Letter Writing Tips
Example of formal letter and envelope
Formal Letter Sample 2

Sections in this article

Exclamations exercise
Exclamations: common errors
Common mistakes with pronouns - Part 2
Common errors with adjectives - part 1
Common errors with adjectives - part 2

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