A letter whether dealing with personal or a business topic, is a kind of essay and is thus subject to the ordinary rules of composition; but as a form of writing it has certain characteristics that must receive special discussion. In business letters it is customary to observe set forms, but in letters to friends these forms are generally dispensed with. It will therefore be convenient to deal separately with personal letters, business letters and general business letters.
1. Personal Letters:
We generally communicate with our relatives, friends and others living at distant places by writing letters to them. It is in fact impossible to lay down any absolute rules about how letters should be written. Personal letter, more particularly, is an individual matter and depends largely on the person’s personality writing the letter.
Most often personal letters are filled with slangs and vernacular phrases. But a personal letter written for examination purposes should not have slangs and many crude phrases of the day to day life. A student then should aim at a precise, lucid style using simple, correct and expressive language. The student must be very clear about what he is writing. A personal letter should be without formality but it should not be formless. For this purpose, the student, before writing, should collect his ideas in a particular framework and then pen them down so that the letter looks spontaneous.
Form of a Personal Letter:
It’s not necessary for a personal letter to be framed in a conventional form. But for examination point of view, the following pattern should be followed:-
1) The Heading
2) The Salutation
3) The Message
4) The Subscription
The Heading or the writer’s address and date are usually written at the right hand top corner of the letter. The name of the house, street or road is written in the first line, the name of the town in the second and date in the third. There should be a comma at the end of the first and second line but a full stop at the end of third line.
Note: But for examination point of view, it will suffice to write The Examination Hall, name of the city or town and date.
The Salutation is the formal way of beginning a letter. It varies with the relationship of the writer with the person addressed to.
It is written at the left hand of the page, a little removed from the margin and at a lower level than the Heading.
My dear father/My dear Leela etc.
The Message contains what the writer wishes to say. This should begin below the last word of the salutation.
The following hints should be observed in all kinds of letters:
a) Think out clearly what you want to say before you begin to write.
b) Divide the body of the letter into paragraphs if the letter is a long one.
c) Use simple language.
d) Write neatly and legibly. You should try your best to avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes.
Private letters are written in simple, familiar words. They should have the ease and flow of conversational expression. To superiors, it should be respectful; to inferiors, courteous; to relations, affectionate; to children, simple and playful.
Private letters may better end with such complimentary expressions as; with best wishes, with kind regards, with love and best wishes etc.
The Subscription usual forms of it are: (between friends) you’re sincerely, (between relatives) Yours affectionately etc.
Some private letters e.g. a letter for publication to the Editor of a Newspaper/Magazine are more formal in tone.
The Salutation, in such letters, changes into ‘Dear Sir’.
The Message will of course depend on the subject of the letter but whatever one writes, it could be as concise and to the point as possible. Newspapers have a limited space for letters, so the writer should not beat about the bush, instead should discuss the problem/issue straight.
The Subscription too will be changed into more formal tone e.g.-Yours faithfully, A.B.C.
Write a letter to your friend, congratulating him on his brilliant success in the XII class examination.
My dear Sudhir,
The declaration of your result was a pleasant surprise to me when I opened the newspaper today in the morning. I was glad that you have not only passed the XII class examination, but your name has also appeared in the merit list.
Please accept my heartiest congratulations and convey the same to your revered parents also. You had burnt the midnight oil. You really deserve this grand success. I hope you will maintain this commanding position for ever.
I am waiting for a grand party from you as earlier promised by you.
Convey my respects to your revered parents.
Yours sincerely, X.Y.Z.
Write a letter to your uncle “informing him of the profession you want to choose.
My dear Uncle,
In your last letter you wanted to know about the profession I intend to choose after completing my studies.
Dear uncle, I have no aptitude for the more money- making professions. Hence I do not want to become a lawyer, an engineer or a businessman. The profession of a doctor is noble, but he is always surrounded by misery. A teacher is the real nation builder. He builds the character of young impressionable people. Moreover, now the teachers are well-paid. They also have ample time for study and recreation. So, I want to become a teacher. I hope you will approve of my choice.
Convey my regards to dear auntie ji.
Yours affectionately, X.Y.Z.