Writing Task 1 General Training Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​You have only 20 minutes in which to write a letter in General Training Task 1. In order to effectively complete the task within the limited time, you need to learn some set phrases for different functions. This class will help you do that.


Exercise 1

​Choose the function from the drop down menu for each phrase.
1. I am writing to express my concern about…
2. I am writing to enquire about…
3. I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with…
4. Please accept my sincere apologies for…
5. I am writing to find out about…
6. I’d be grateful if you could…
7. I was very sorry to learn that…
8. I am very sorry about…
9. I am writing to express my annoyance with…
10. I would appreciate it if you could…
11. I am not happy with…
12. Sorry for…
13. I was really sorry to hear that…
14. Could you please…
15. I would like to know about…


Language Note | Collocations

To get a high IELTS vocabulary band, we need to know our collocations. Collocations are groups of words that like to stick together. We can see a number of collocations in the phrases above.

Collocations Examples

From the phrase ‘I am writing to express my concern about…’ we can see that the word ‘concern’ is paired with ‘about’. This is a collocation, meaning that ‘concern’ is often joined with ‘about’ rather than other prepositions:

I am concerned at… X
I am concerned on… X

I am concerned about… 

Here are other collocations from the exercise.

about
to enquire about
to find out about
to know about
to be sorry about (can be used to show your sadness when something bad has happened)

for
to be sorry for (typically used for when you have made the mistake)
to accept my apologies for (typically used for when you have made the mistake)

with
to express dissatisfaction with
to express annoyance with
to be happy with

​We have collocations exercises here.


Exercise 2

​It is important to consider how formal your writing must be in this task. Look at the language note then complete the task.


​Language Note | Tone

When writing, we must consider (think about) our tone. Our tone could be informal, semi-formal or formal.

informal
an informal tone is used mainly for writing to friends and in casual situations.
For example, to find information we might say: ‘Tell me about…’

semi-formal
a semi-formal tone is used when we are writing to someone that we do not know very well. The language used is often more polite and respectful than in an informal situation.
Example: ‘I’d like to know about…’

formal
a formal tone should be used in a professional, serious context
Example: ‘I would be interested in finding out about…’

Note that there isn’t always a clear line between what is informal and what is semi-formal, or what is semi-formal and what is formal. As you read more, you should naturally get a better idea of tone.

Now choose whether the following phrases are informal, semi-formal or formal.
1. I was very sorry to learn that…
2. I was really sorry to hear that…
3. I am writing to express my concern about…
4. I am writing to find out about…
5. I am writing to enquire about…
6. I would like to know about…
7. I am not happy with…
8. I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with…
9. I am writing to express my annoyance with…
10. Please accept my sincere apologies for…
11. I am very sorry about…
12. Sorry for…
13. I’d be grateful if you could…
14. I would appreciate it if you could…
15. Could you please…

Your tone should be consistent throughout your writing. In the future when you read letters and texts, think about how individual phrases in the text show the tone of the whole text. 

See more letter writing lessons here.
Share This