Have you ever wondered, when these smartphones, SMS, email and other modes of transmitting information was not available to the people, then how they convey their messages to others? You might have known about letters, which are used by individuals earlier to interchange information, however, nowadays their use is confined to business and official purposes only. Letters are a form of verbal and written communication, which contains information or message, send by one party to another, to convey the message.
There are two types of letters, i.e. formal letters and informal letters. The former is used for professional purposes, while the latter is used for personal purposes. So, take a read of this article, to know the difference between formal and informal letter.
Content: Formal Vs Informal Letters
|Basis for Comparison||Formal Letter||Informal Letter|
|Meaning||A formal letter is a letter, written in formal language, in the stipulated format, for official purpose.||A letter written in an friendly manner, to someone you are familiar with, is called informal letter.|
|Objective||Professional Communication||Personal Communication|
|Format||Written in prescribed format only.||No prescribed format.|
|Written in||First person - Business letters, third person - others.||First, second or third person.|
|Written to||Business, college/institute, employer, organizations, etc.||Friends, family, acquaintances etc.|
|Sentences||Long and complex||Short and simple|
|Size||Concise||Large or concise|
|Contractions and Abbreviations||Avoided||Used|
Definition of Formal Letters
A formal letter is any letter written in the professional language, with a prescribed format for a formal purpose, i.e. it can be a recommendation letter, enquiry letter, complaint letter, cover letter and so on. All business letters are formal, but vice versa is not possible. Such letters are used for a variety of reasons like a formal invitation, proposal, reference, making a complaint or inquiry, applying for a job. While writing a formal letter one should keep in mind the following things:
- It should be in specified format.
- It should avoid the use of unnecessary words.
- It should be straight to the point.
- It should be relevant and objective.
- It should be complex and thorough.
- It should be polite, even if it is a complaint letter.
- It should be free from any mistakes, i.e. grammatical or spelling.
Definition of Informal Letters
An informal letter is a letter written to someone; we know fairly well. The letter can be used for some reasons like conveying message, news, giving advice, congratulate recipient, request information, asking questions, etc. It is a personal letter, written to whom you are familiar with, like friends, siblings, parents or any other closed one. There is no specific format prescribed for writing this letter.
While writing an informal letter, one can afford to be friendly, and make use personal or emotional tone. Slang or colloquial terms, codes, abbreviations, etc. can also be used at the time of writing it, depending on the familiarity with the recipient.
Key Differences Between Formal and Informal Letter
The significant points of difference between formal and informal letters are discussed as under:
- A formal letter is one, written in formal language, in the stipulated format, for official purpose. A letter is said to be informal when it is written in a friendly manner, to someone you are familiar with.
- Formal letters are written for official or professional communication. On the other hand, informal letters are used for casual or personal communication.
- There is a manner prescribed for writing formal letters. As opposed to informal communication, which does not follow any format.
- Formal letters are usually written in the third person, however, for business letters, first person is used. On the contrary, informal letters are written in first, second and third person.
- Formal letters are used for writing letters to business, i.e. partners, suppliers, customers, clients, etc. , college or institute, employer, professionals, etc. As against this, we use informal letters for writing letters to friends, relatives, acquaintance, etc.
- While writing formal letters, we use passive voice. Conversely, an active and imperative voice is used.
- The sentences we use at the time of writing a formal letter are, long and complex. Unlike an informal letter, where we use short and simple sentences which are easy to interpret.
- The size of a formal letter should be concise; that does not include irrelevant matter. In contrast, the informal letter can be concise or large.
- Formal letters do not include contraction like (didn’t, can’t) and abbreviations rather it uses full forms. As compared to informal letters, which makes use of contraction, abbreviation, idioms, phrasal verbs and even slang and colloquial terms.
So, before start writing letter, first of all, you should identify, Who is your recipient? If you are having a professional relationship with the recipient, then you should go for a formal letter, whereas if the recipient is someone very close to you or you know the recipient well, then the informal letter is the right choice for you.