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Online dictionaries

The dictionaries below will be a help!

 Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 

 Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus 

Writing - useful words and phrases - FCE

Candidates are expected to be able to write non-specialised text types such as an article, an essay, a letter, an email, a report or a review. Here you can find some useful words and phrases for each of these text types.


Informal letter

Dear (first name),
Dear (first name), or Hi (first name) (for informal e-mails)

Beginnings

Thank you/Many thanks for your (recent/last) letter/postcard.
It was good/nice to hear from you recently.
I’m sorry I haven’t written/been in touch for such a long time.
It’s ages since I’ve heard from you. I hope you’re/you and your family are well.

Asking

Hi! / How are the things? / How are you? / How’s it going?

Referring to their news

Great news about … Glad to hear that … Sorry to hear about …

Giving news

Listen, did I tell you about …? You’ll never believe what …
Oh, and another thing … This is just to let you know that …
I thought you might be interested to hear about/know that …
By the way, have you heard about/did you know that …

Apologies

I’m writing to apologise for missing your party but I’m afraid I was with flu.
I’m really sorry that I forgot to send you a birthday card but I was busy with my new job.
If you let me know where you bought it/how much it cost I’ll gladly pay for it/replace it.

Please let me know how much the bill is and I’ll gladly pay it.

Invitations

I’m/We’re having a party on Friday 19th and I/we hope you’ll be able to come.
Would you like to come/go to see ‘Room With a View’ with me at the weekend.
I was wondering if you’d like to go to the theatre/come on holiday with us?
Could you let me/us know if you can come/you’d like to join us?
Thank you vary much for your invitation. I’d love to come.
Thank you for asking/inviting me to … but I’m afraid I won’t be able to …

Requests

I’m writing to ask for your help/you (if you could do me) a favour.
I wonder if/I was wondering if you could help me/do me a favour.
I hope you don’t mind me asking but could you (possibly) …?
I’d be very/really/terribly grateful if you could …

Thank you / Congratulations / Good Luck

I’m writing to thank you for your hospitality/the wonderful present.
It was so kind of you to invite me to stay with you.
I really appreciated all your help/advice.

Congratulations on passing your exams/your excellent exam results!

I wish you good luck/Good luck in/with your exams/your driving test/your interview.
Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do well/pass.

Making suggestions and recommend

Why don’t you …? Maybe you could …? How about …?
You can’t leave New York without doing sth
I’m sure you will enjoy doing sth If you like, we can …
Do visit (somewhere). Don’t forget to (do sth) (Imperative -> Strong Recommendation)
I’m told that … People say that … (If you heard sth is good)

Endings

Give my love/regards to … Say hello to … Hope to hear from you soon.
See you soon! Write soon. Once again, thank you for all your help.

Signing off

Love,
Lots of love,
All the best,
Best wishes,

 +First name

Remember that in informal letters we use:

  • Informal vocabulary, including phrasal verbs

​‘go on’ instead of ‘continue

  • Simpler sentence structure

I’ll be late for the party. It’s because of my French exam.

  • Punctuation using exclamation marks (don't overuse it)

If you’d been at the wedding, you’d have loved the food!

  • Contractions

​I've just heard you've been to...


Formal letter

Dear Mr/Ms (surname)  -  Dear Sir/Madam  -  Dear Sir or Madam,

Reason for writing

I am writing to …
I am writing with regard to …
I am writing on behalf of …

Asking questions

I would be grateful if …
I wonder if you could …
Could you …? Could you tell me something about …?
I would particularly like to know …
I would be interested in having more details about …

Referring to their letter

As you stated in your letter, …
Regarding … Concerning … With regard to …

Complaining

I am writing to complain about …
You said … but in fact what happened …
We were supposed to stay with British families whereas we actually stayed in a guest house.

Closing

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Please contact me if you have any further questions.

Signing off

Yours sincerely, (If you started with 'Dear + surname') or Yours faithfully, (If you started with 'Dear Sir/Madam') 

    First name + surname

Remember that in formal letters we use

  • Formal vocabulary, usually not using phrasal verbs

‘Tolerate’ instead of ‘put up with’

  • More complex sentence structure

Knowing what a good reputation the restaurant has, I was disappointed with the service.

  • Punctuation using semi-colons

The library offers no facilities for borrowing videos; this is because of the high cost involved.


Letter of application

Dear Mr/Ms (surname), Dear Sir/Madam/Sir or Madam,

Reason for writing

I am writing to apply for the post/position of … as advertised in …
I am writing with reference/in response to your advertisement, which I saw …
I am writing in connection with your advertisement in the Daily Star on May 11th …
With reference to your advertisement …

Experience / Qualifications / CV

I gained some experience while …
I am currently working as …
I have been working for … for the last four years.
I worked part-time for three years as …
At the moment I am employed by …
My qualifications include …
I have a diploma in …
I graduated from Barcelona University last year with a degree in …
Please find attached my CV
As you can see from the attached CV …

Endings

Please do not hesitate to contact me if/should you require further information.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I am available for interview at your convenience.
I shall be available for interview any day apart from Wednesdays.

Signing off

(If Dear + surname) Yours sincerely,
(If Dear Sir/Madam) Yours faithfully,

  First name + surname


Report

Introduction

The aim/purpose of this report is to consider/suggest/...
This report is intended to...
I summarise below / Below is a summary of the most important relevant points as well as some recommendations.

Reporting results

Most people seem to feel that...
Several people said/told me/suggested/thought that…

Making recommendations

I would therefore recommend that we expand the library/installing a new coffee machine...
It would seem that banning mobile phones is the best idea.
Having considered the options, …
I would like to suggest/recommend …
I therefore suggest/recommend …
You may wish to consider …


Article

Heading / Title

Freezing! (dramatic)
My Lone Walk to the North Pole (a summary)
What’s the big idea? (a question)
You’re already well equipped to prevent crime (surprising)

Opening

Did you know …?
What would you do if …?

General Structure

  • Give your article a heading or headline which makes the subject clear and also catches the reader’s attention.
  • Divide the article into paragraphs to help the reader follow the argument.
  • Begin with an interesting introduction – an example, perhaps, or a question.
  • End with an overall comment or concluding.

Essay

Making points

Many people feel that ...
First and foremost, ...
It is widely believed that ...
It would be ideal if ...
Another argument in favour is ...
It is clear from the facts that ...
The benefits of ... outweigh the disadvantages.
On the whole, I think ...

Contrasting points

On the other hand ...
Other people think ...
An opposing argument is ...
Giving opinions
I personally feel that ...
I find it hard to see why ...
I certainly don't believe that ...
It is difficult to believe that ...
I object to the cloning of animals.

Organising and linking your ideas

First of all, … Secondly, … In addition, …
Moreover, … Furthermore, …
So … As a result, … Therefore, …
However, … On the one hand…/On the other hand …
On the whole … While it is true to say …
Finally, … To summarise, … In conclusion