Writing letters is a form of non-verbal communication. It is true, that in the past people used to write more letters than in these days. Science and technology development give us modern forms of communication (e-mails, SMS), but despite of this fact there are always situations and occasions in which classical letters need to be written.
Personal letters and business letters have much in common. At first, we have to know the language in which we want to write a letter well. Secondly, there are some rules about writing letters which we should observe. In Slovakia there is a standard called STN – Slovak technical norms.
Business letters employ a special “business English”. The main difference between this sort of English and the English used in personal letters is that it should never become too conversational. Slang expressions must be avoided, and polite but friendly formality must be maintained, so that conversational abbreviations such as don´t, can´t should also be avoided because they sound too intimate. Nothing in business letters should sound too personal. A good business letter must be accurate. The facts, figures and dates must be correct.
Business letters consist of several parts.
Business letters are written on official paper with letterhead, i. e. the full address of the sender printed at the top. The letter itself starts with address of the addressee, on the left-hand side of the page. Below it you must fill in the numbers in “Your ref: …” (reference); and “Our ref…” – the number of abbreviation under which the copy of the letter has been filled and the initials of the member of the staff or his typist. The date is written on the right-hand side of the page.
In a letter to a firm, the formal greeting is “Dear Sirs” in Britain and “Gentlemen” in the USA or Canada. In a business letter to a stranger you write “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam”.
After the greeting (a comma is put after it in the Britain letters and a colon in US letters) the message begins, e. g. “We are pleased to inform you that…” Try to make the message as clear and short as possible.
The letter is closed with “Yours sincerely” in Britain and “Yours truly” in the USA or Canada; a comma comes after these phrases.
When some materials are enclosed, this must be indicated. For example if there are two items, write “2 encls.” or “Enclosures: 2” below and to the left of the signature.
There are different types of business letters:
•Inquires – when a company wants to gain some information about goods, materials, etc., about its price, quality,…
•Offers – in this type of letter the company which was requested for any information give them to a potencial customer
•Orders – when a firm decides to order some goods or material, it sends an order – it is important to write the exact amount of goods
•Confirmation of an order
•Requests for payment
When we are applying for a job it is important to have a Curricullum Vitae (CV) and the letter of application. Employer can read some facts about us from these documents, our knowledge, abilities, maybe hobbies, he can decide if we would be helpful in his company or not.
CV should include:
•education and qualities
The letter of application – it is an accessory letter to a CV.
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