Exercise 1 – Formal email or letter asking for information

Check the ‘Explanation’ tab above before doing these exercises. Fill in the gaps with the words in the box.

appreciate      also      faithfully      finally      first of all      forward      further      grateful      know      mind      reference

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in 1 to the home exchange service that you offer on your website. We are a family of four who have been considering the possibility of exchanging our main home for some time and we would be 2 if you could answer a few questions.

3 , I would like to 4 if some kind of insurance is included in the fee that you charge for your services. We have our own home insurer, but we are not sure if we should talk to them before doing an exchange. I would 5 some information on this point.

I would 6 like to know if pets can be included in the exchange. We have a cat and we do not have anybody to look after him while we are away. Could you tell me if exchanging pets or leaving a pet in the care of the people who are coming to your home is a common practice?

7 , I would be interested to receive 8 information about the confirmation process. Would you 9 telling me if there is an exchange contract that needs to be signed before your exchange?

We would appreciate it if you could answer these questions. I look 10 to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Stephanie Clark.


 

 

Formal email asking for information

Read the following informal email and check the different parts and the language used.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you to enquire about the medical volunteering in Cambodia that has been advertised on your website. As a medical student, I would be very interested in participating in this program, and I would be grateful if you could give me some further details.

Firstly, according to your website, there is a minimum duration of four weeks; however, the maximum duration of the programme is not mentioned. I would appreciate it if you could tell me whether it is possible to have extended stays, since I would like to work in one of your hospitals for a period of over six months.

Secondly, you also inform that only students in their 4th year of medical school can be accepted as volunteers. In my case, I have just finished my 3rd year and I would like to know if I can already be considered a 4th year student.

Finally, I would appreciate some information about accommodation. Could you please tell me if volunteers are offered a room in a shared house? And if that is so, would you mind telling me if electricity, running water and WIFI are provided?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Derek Peters.

 

Check the useful language.

 
Greeting and signature or closing line. These are the first and last lines in an email or letter.

Opening line in the first paragraph, where you state your reason for writing, and closing line in the last paragraph.

Asking for information.

In formal letters, use indirect questions instead of direct questions.

Discourse markers used to order our points.
 

Structure and useful language

 

Greeting

 
The greeting is used to address your reader. If you know the person you are writing to, use ‘Dear Mr’ for a man and ‘Dear Ms’ for a woman, followed by their surname (NOT their name). If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, you can use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

Reason for writing (paragraph one)

You should start the first paragraph by stating the purpose of your email or letter. You have some examples below:

  • I am writing to enquire about… (the advertisement/the job offer/etc.)
  • I am writing in reference to…
  • I am writing in connection with…
  • I am writing to… (complain/enquire/etc.) about…

 

Body

 
After the first paragraph, where we state the reason why we are writing, we can use one paragraph for each of the points we want to ask about. And at the beginning of each paragraph, we should use connectors to order our points.

  • Firstly/First of all,… (paragraph 2)
  • Secondly/In addition/I would also like to know,… (paragraph 3)
  • Finally,… (paragraph 4)

 

Asking for information

 
Here is some useful language that you can use when the purpose of your email or letter is asking for information:

  • I am writing to enquire about…
  • I would be grateful if you could give me some information/further details about…
  • I would appreciate some information about…
  • I would be interested to receive further details about…

 

Specific questions

 
In formal letters or emails, direct questions are rarely used; you should use indirect questions.

  • I would be grateful if you could tell me… (how much the course costs/when the course starts/etc.)
  • I would appreciate it if you could tell me…
  • I would like to know…
  • I was wondering if you could tell me…
  • Would you mind telling me…?
  • Could you tell me…?

I you have to ask several questions, you should avoid repeating the same type of indirect question all the time. Use some of the different forms above.
 

Closing line

 
Right before the signature, you should write some closing remarks. Here you have some useful language.

  • I look forward to hearing from you.
  • I look forward to receiving the requested information.
  • I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions as soon as possible.

 

Signature

 

  • Yours sincerely, (use this if you began your email or letter with Dear + name of the person).
  • Yours faithfully, (use this if you began your email or letter with Dear Sir/Madam).

 


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