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Personal letters



Style
By personal letters we mean those letters that are written between two people,
Whether friends, brothers, relatives, or colleagues. These letters are informal, both routine and non-routine, and less reciprocal. The style and content of such letters are quite dependent on the type of the letter and mannerism of the writer. But there are 5 important points (C’S) that should be taken into consideration when writing a personal letter.
Correct. Your letter should be grammatically, orthographically, and semantically correct.
Clear. There should not be any ambiguities in your letter.
Concise. Tour point in writing the letter should be stated as completely but as tersely as possible.
Courteous. Courtesy should always be strictly observed.
Coherent. Your letter should be solid. There should be essential and reasonable links among words, sentences, and paragraph.

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Layout


Layout is the format of a letter. The layout for a personal letter contains the following items:

1. Heading. Heading includes both the (sender’s) address and the date.
a) Address. In English the address is written from minor parts to major parts. Thus we start with the number of the house/flat; then the name/number of the street, avenue, road, square, place, drive, lane, …; and finally the name of the city. If the letter is sent abroad, the name of country should be mentioned. For example

No. 206,
Duxbury Rd.,
London,
England.

b) Date. Two spaces below the address, we put the date. We can use cardinal numbers-e.g., 20, 11, 4, …-and the full forms of the months (in words), and finally the year (in numbers) for the date. This is American style. An example is indicated here: 20 July, 1991.
On other hand, we may write ordinal numbers-e.g., 2nd, 8th, 8th, 24th, …-and the abbreviated forms of the months (those which can be abbreviated, e.g., Aug., Sept., etc.), and the year (in numbers) for the British style of the date. Here is an example: 20th Aug., 1997.
The use of punctuations is rather compulsory if it is a British date, but optional if it is an American. For example:

American style
28 June,1990
August 1,1989.

British style
Tuesday, 28 June.
3rd Feb., 1979
Jan. 15th, 1996.

Heading is written in the top right-hand corner of the page.


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2. Salutation. This s in fact the greeting of the letter where you would call your addressee by some friendly, pleasant, or at least respectable name, alias, or title. Salutation is put on the left-hand side of the letter, usually two spaces above the boy of the letter. Salutation is set off from the body by a comma (British) or a colon (American). It is customary that the salutation starts with ‘Dear’ and then followed by the name of the addressee, either preceded by title(s) or not.



Some common salutations used for personal letters:
British style
Dear mother,
Dear John,
Dear Mr. Perry,
Dear Mrs. Patrick,

American style
Dearest Judy:
Judy dear:
Dear sirs:
Dear Mrs Fey:
Gentlemen:

The British use a dot after Mr., Mrs., … but American do not


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3. Body. Body is the letter itself which is usually divided into three parts:


Reference. The first paragraph is the reference paragraph in which you would refer you any points that prompted you to write the letter. For instance if the letter is a Thank you letter you would refer to the beautiful gift, the warm hospitality, the great help, etc. you have received from a dear one of yours and mention that with great pleasure and appreciation. For example:

How considerate of you to send me this very handy minicomputer for my birthday. …

Purpose. The second paragraph is the purpose paragraph in which you would elaborate on the reason why you are writing the letter. For instance you thank your friend in a Thank you letter, you invite your friend in an Invitation letter. For example:

You know that Dave is ti depart London for New York soon for his future studies. So, we are giving a good-bye party. Everyone in the group is attending, and I was wondering if you could drop by. …

Conclusion. The last paragraph is the conclusion paragraph in which you would round up your letter and add some good wishes for your addressee. For example:

I just can’t say how grateful I am for this lovely gift of yours. I am anxious to hear from you soon.


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4. Subscription (or closing). At the end of the letter, just two spaces below the body, usually on the right-hand side, we say good-bye to our addressee. THE good-bye or the subscription should always correspond with the greeting or the salutation. Some common subscriptions used in personal letters:



Yours faithfully, =>for=> Dear Sirs:
Yours sincerely, =>for=> Dear Mr./Mrs. Smith,
Yours truly, =>for=> Dear Manager:
Yours affectionately, =>for=> Dear Judy,

Yours with love, =>for=> Mother, dear:
Love, =>for=> My dearest Alexander,
Best wishes, =>for=> Dear Betsy and Bob:
Regards, =>for=> Gentlemen

Remember that subscription is usually set off from the signature by a comma.


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5. Signature. This is the last item we use in personal letters. It can be a real signature of the writer of the letter, or just his/her initials. It is usually put right after the subscription either with the typed/handwritten name of the writer, or without it.



Sincerely yours,
J. S. H. Ch.


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6. P.S (postscript). It is mentioned when the writer remembers that he has forgotten something


to say in the body of the letter. Then, he puts down P.S. at the bottom f the page and, right in front of it. It should be short.
Personal letters are almost always handwritten, except writing an invitation to someone whom you are on very formal terms with.


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Margin and spacing


As it seen in the two formats, there are some margins and spaces that should be observed. Irrespective of whichever format you would choose.

A) Margins. These are the spaces you leave blank on the left- and right- hand sides, and also at the top and bottom of the sheet of paper you write the letter on.

B) Spaces. These are the spaces you leave blank between two words, lines, or paragraphs.
1. Word spacing
2. Line spacing
3. Paragraph spacing


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Envelopes


These are the pockets which you put your letter in, put down some addresses and stick some stamps on them before you mail them. When writing the addresses on the envelopes, you should note that the return address is preceded by our name. The receiver’s address is written on the bottom right-hand side. These addresses are written at the back of the envelope. On the front side, you would write the receiver’s address- if not already put down at the back of side. For the attention of at the bottom of the back side of the envelope, and then write the name of the receiver. If the letter is not to be handed over to your sendee, then you would write ‘c/o’ which stands for ‘care of’ or ‘please forward this letter to …’, and then write the name of the receiver.

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Types of personal letters


1. Invitation. By an invitation letter. You invite a friend, a relative, some honorable guest, … to your weeding, dinner, graduation, birthday, etc. Party. Or, you ask for the audience of some people in a meeting, symposium, conference, lecture,… . Invitation should be polite, sincere, and attractive.

Dear Mary,

We are having a cosy get-together tomorrow evening just to refresh old memories. We thought you might be interested.
Drop a line if you can.


Love,
Jane .

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2. Thank-you letter or appreciation letter. In this kind of letter, you thank someone for sending you a gift, rendering you a service, providing you with warm hospitality, etc.



Dear Lucy,

Thank you for the wonderful set of cookbooks. This thoughtful gift helped to make my birthday a very special occasion.


Sincerely,

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3. Congratulation. You would congratulate someone for marriage, graduation, birthday, etc. in a congratulation letter.

Dear Julie:

I’ve just heard the good news that you have been elected to the board of directors of the Ocean Isles Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations!
During the few years the Chamber has been in existence, it has done a remarkable job of attracting new industry, professional people, tourists, and retirees to this community. And now that you’re a board member, I expect the Chamber to achieve even bigger things during the next three years.
The Chamber has always had our support, but our resolve is now stronger than ever to
contribute to its growth and success. Best wishes and good luck.


Sincerely,
(Poe, 1983, P. 216)

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4. Condolence/sympathy letter. When something horrible happens to someone dear to you, for example a death. Condolence letters are usually short.



Dear Mr. Summers,

.I would like to extend the deep sympathy of all of us at Jason Associates

we had the privilege of knowing and working with with for many years, and her friendly presence will be sadly missed.

please consider us your friends and telephone us if we can be of any help.



sincerely,
(Foulsham and Co.Ltd., 1970, p. 69)

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5. First letter to a pen-friend. This type of letter is usually long, for in it you should talk about


yourself in detail.


21, Pierce Dr.,
Brighton,
Br 43. Pr3,
England.
15Apr., 1994

Dear Margarita,



My name’s Pedro Alvarez. I’m twenty-one, and single. I work as a typist in a small company. I can type 80 words a minute. Isn’t that wonderful?! My hometown is Porto Prance in Jamaica, but I live in Brighton, England. I love it very much because it’s got a beautiful beach just like my own town. I carve for jazz music, and I love cricket.
I would like to know about you. Write in English.


Regards,
Pedro

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6. Post card. You write a post card when you are taking a short trip to somewhere and you may have to inform your dear ones of yourself, of the fun you have, the beauty of the place, what you are doing at this very moment, etc. post card is a compact letter, i.e., both the letter and the place and on the other side a box to write a few short sentences, some spaces to put the sendee’s address, and finally the date. Thus, post cards are usually mentioned, i.e., there is no heading; salutation and subscription are short and intimate.



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7. Diary. Diaries are personal notes of daily chores, with some unprecedented events included. They are recorded for later use or reference. A diary is a letter to oneself; thus, it lacks heading, salutation and subscription. We may put our names on the top of the page, or sign at the bottom. However, what is most important is the date which is not as formal and complete as the one used in other types of letters, but should appear, in any case, either on the top or at the bottom of the page.



July 16, 1974.Sunny day. Not much to do. Had to go to Grandmother’s.
July 16, 1974.The usual Sunday dinner at Grandmother’s. Too much food, too much adult talk. I hate big family dinners. Grandmother fusses too much, complains if I do not eat a lot of everything, and gets angry when I want to leave the table too soon. I like her, but not when she is crotchety and feeling sorry for herself. I would like to sneak over to her house when she is all alone and the two of us could just talk. Today I just feel like getting away. I wish I had a cabin in the mountains somewhere, with nobody around for miles. I would not even watch television, just sit and read and walk and dream.



(Glatthorn, 1975, p. 173)

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