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IELTS Apology Letter for General Training

It is common to be asked to write an IELTS apology letter for General Training writing task 1. You might be given a formal or informal apology letter. You must use the correct style and tone to get a high band score. Always decide what type of letter you must write before you start planning. Students taking the academic test, do not write letters for task 1 writing.

Below you will find:

  • an informal apology letter: question and model answer
  • a formal apology letter: question and model answer
  • link to essential tips for IELTS letter writing

Note the difference in tone, content and also language between formal and informal apology letters.

IELTS Informal Apology Letter

This letter was in the IELTS test, October 2017.

Write a letter to a friend. You have borrowed something from your friend and it got damaged.

  1. Apologize for damaging the product
  2. Explain what happened
  3. Say how are you going to fix the issue


IELTS Model Answer Apology Letter – Informal

Dear Emily,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write to you but at last I put pen to paper to explain why I haven’t returned that DIY book I borrowed from you.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling so guilty that I delayed writing to you. I have to own up that I damaged the book accidentally. I’m so very sorry. I know how important that book is to you as it was passed down from your late father.

What happened is that I had been reading up on the chapter about DIY plumbing when I knocked over my cup of coffee which splashed all over the book. Most of the stain is on the pages that were open at the time.

I’ve sent the book away to be repaired. I didn’t realise that was even possible until I researched it. Anyway, it should be as good as new when I get it back next week and then I’ll send it on to you.

Again, I’m so sorry for the delay in telling you. I hope you can forgive me.

Best wishes


IELTS Formal Apology Letter

Write a letter to your boss apologising for the recent meeting you missed at work.

  1. Apologise for missing the meeting.
  2. Explain what happened.
  3. Say what you will do to compensate.


Model Answer for an IELTS Formal Apology Letter

Dear Mr Drummond,

I am writing to apologise for the meeting I missed on October 20th about development plans for the company.

I am sincerely sorry for not being able to attend this meeting. I am aware of the importance of the meeting but, unfortunately, my absence was unavoidable.

The reason for not attending this meeting was that I had a car accident on the way to work that day. Although the accident was not serious, I was taken to hospital for a check up and not allowed to leave until I had been given the all clear from a doctor.

I understand how crucial this meeting was and, therefore, I have asked one of my colleagues, Sandra Brown, to review the meeting with me after work today. We will go over all development plans and also people’s roles and responsibilities. By the end of today, I will be up to speed with all plans.

I hope you will forgive my absence and be assured of my commitment to this company and its future.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Brollend

Useful Link

You can find essential tips for IELTS letters on this page: IELTS GT Letter Writing Tips


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  1. Hi Liz,

    i have one question, if in writing test, before the last line (do not write below this line) has one spase to write, should i write on those line or i must continue new sheet?
    is it a problem, if i write on it?

    Best Regards,

  2. Dear Sandra,

    How have you been? I just got back today from the hiking trip. I am so sorry to tell you that the Bose Bluetooth speakers that you lent me for my inspiration are destroyed.

    To tell you the truth I had been very diligent, always kept them in the hard case after every use. However, last Thursday night there was a storm that hit the blue mountains, all our tents were partially destroyed and many of us lost our personal belongings.

    Next day when skies got clear, we started packing in order to descend from the peak and I had a chance to observe the speakers that got a dent and were no longer working.

    I completely understand how precious these speakers were to you and that your father got them from New York. In order to make up for this, I owe you the exact same pair. I checked that the model is now available on Amazon and I have placed an order for them already, they are likely to be delivered by next week.

    Once again I want to apologize for what happened and I will see you as soon as these brand new speakers arrive.

    Take care,


  3. In the informal letter, why is there no comma after ‘Best Wishes’?


  4. Thank you so much Liz for putting all these together for the benefit of everyone. Please, I want to know if it is/not necessary to write a heading for a formal letter. From all I have been reading about writing task for ielts, I have not come across any formal letter with a heading, but the formal letters I am so familiar with always come with a heading. which is the right one please?

  5. Roopsi batra says:

    Hi liz , thanku so much for your tips . I have been following u since long! I wanted to ask there’s a lot of confusion that short forms like hvnt or I hv cannot be used or vl be negatively marked but I can see them in your sample answer. Can veer use them

    • I have not used anything like that in the model letter above. What are you referring it? You are referring to DIY which is a standard accepted short form similar to DNA. That is NOT the same as hv = have or havnt = haven’t. Do not confuse texting language, which is not acceptable in IELTS, with accepted English short forms.

      • o be honest, I’ve been feeling so guilty that I delayed writing to you. I have to own up that I damaged the book accidentally. I’m
        I was talking about use of I’hv And I’m

        • “I’hv” is not an accepted contraction in the English language – it is slang used in texting on phones. So, you can’t use it for writing in English. “I’m” is an accepted contraction of “I am” which is used in informal English writing. As you see, the letter above is informal – it is to your friend. That means you should use acceptable English language contractions. If you are unclear between accepted contractions and texting slang, you will have a serious problem. It means you will need to review your basic English grammar to learn about contractions. See this page for more letter writing tips: http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-letter-writing-essential-tips/

  6. Hello,thank you so much for providing this useful website.I have a question regarding the signing off and name.For example,after writing down Yours faithfully or Warm wishes,do I have to skip a line then write my name or i don’t have to,and what about the comma,is it ok with or without it?
    Much thanks!

    • There are no fixed rules. You do not have to leave an empty line – I often do. You do not need a comma because commas have become more and more redundant in modern writing.

  7. Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for the good work. please, I would like to know if the letter below is to be written as a semiformal or informal letter.

    ” A friend has written to you asking for advice about a problem at work. You have had a similar problem in the past. Write a reply to your friend. In your letter:
    * Tell your friend you understand the problem.
    * Explain what happened to you in the past.
    * Suggest possible solutions to the problem.

  8. Hey Liz,

    Could you please clarify below queries as my test is scheduled in August:

    Should I use pencil for Listening and reading in answer sheet as I would be able to correct in case of any error
    Do Ielts still deduct marks in case answer expected to be in caps and written in small or vice-versa.

    Your response is highly appreciated

  9. Hi, Liz I have followed you since last year, you are doing a great job!! Tonnes of thank you . what I just looked while reading the sample letters the letter of informal to write up for a friend has minor mistake of “SO VERY SORRY” I think its not appropriate way to aplogize.
    Please do reply

  10. I have a question regarding writing task 2. while preparing ideas for essay if i find factual information. for example for essay topic for Art. I found facts like “Business in UK arts and culture industry generated an aggregated turnover of 12.4 billion in 2011” similar facts about the employment in art and culture industry. so can we used these facts or would it make our essay look like memorized?

    • The examiner has no interest in facts. You aim is to explain using your own words, not memorise numbers.

  11. Tejinder says:

    Hey Liz
    Thank you so much for being there. You are truly a saviour. Today it was my first day for ielts training. I wrote a letter. The teacher told me not to use abbreviation as well as short form like i.e. for that is, it’s etc. Could you please suggest whether it’s true? And maximum how many paragraphs should be there.
    Thank you

  12. Shourav says:

    Write an apology reply after receiving a complaint from neighbours for noise came from my house
    Write a letter to your lecturer or professor for a reference letter to apply for a new job.
    Are these 2 formal or semi formal ?
    Shall I write Dear neighbours or dear everyone?

    • The first is formal. The second is formal. You do not have a close personal relationship with your lecturer – you don’t tell them secrets or enjoy quiet dinners together – a lecturer is not a friend.

      • Samir Rai says:

        Liz, you’ve said “first is formal. The second is formal”. I reckon you meant the first is “informal”.

        • They are both formal. The letter to your neighbours is plural – this means you are written to them all as a group. You might have a close personal relationship with your closest neighbour, but it is highly doubtful you are very close and personal with them all. So, they are both formal.

  13. Silvee says:

    Hi Liz,

    Am I allowed to ask for extra papers for writing exam ?

  14. Isha Singh says:

    Hello mam,
    I have a doubt regarding 1 GT task 1 topic could you please clarify that
    The ques. Is
    You recently took a part-time job working for a local company. After a few weeks, you realised there were some problems with the job.
    Write a letter to the manager of the company.In your letter
    *Explain why you took the job
    *Describe the problems that you experienced
    *Suggest what could be done about them.

    So in this ques. Whether the examiner wants to ask that you have the left the job now write a letter OR it’s about that right now you are working over there and then you have to write a letter.

    I really need this response soon it’s urgent please
    I’m looking forward for your response

    • There is no information that you left the job. It says you took the job and have found problems.

      • Isha Singh says:

        Ok ok got it mam
        Thanku so much for clearing my query that too so quickly 😃
        I’m really a great admirer of yours .

  15. orola joseph says:

    Dear Mr Abiodun,

    I am writing to apologise for the meeting i missed on 15th April about developing plan of our great company. I know how important it is for every staff to attend the meeting as the company is presently adopting new branding and market strategies.

    I was on my way to the office on that day when i got a call from my wife that my only child mistakenly drank poison and was rushed to the hospital. I was confused, but i managed to get to the said hospital as soon as possible. Thank God, he was attended to before things got out of hand.

    To reduce the impact of my absence, i have already placed calls to both branding and marketing mangers to bring me up to speed as regards the meeting agenda and i have started working on the parts assigned to me so as to meet up with the deadlines.

    I hope you will pardon my absence and be assured of my commitment to this company and it’s future.

    Yours faithfully,
    Orola Joseph.

  16. Hi Liz,

    Firstly ,I would like to thank you for all your great service through this blog for the students. It’s a great help !

    I was going through the comments section on this page. I’m not clear on the answer given for speaking advise. Kindly clarify me

    For an Instance, I get a cue card to speak on the topic ” A successful Business Person” and I speak on the Successful holiday trip i went , is it not wrong? will my score not go down.

    My understanding is that we need to speak on the topic given but not go off from the topic or speak about entirely a different topic. Is my understanding correct?

    Kindly advise, as i have only few more days left for my speaking test.

    • IELTS examiners will not accept memorised answers. This means if you get the topic of a business person, but instead speak about a holiday – it is obvious to the examiner that you are changing the topic in order to give a talk with a prepared answer. This will not work. So, stick close to the topic – talk about a business person who isn’t successful, or a successful company but you don’t know who owns it – these are all similar to and very closely related to the given topic. A holiday is not similar to a business person.

  17. Muzaffar says:

    Thank you so much for your efforts in bringing to us the useful materials/videos.

    Need your clarification on the below question from Listening section.

    Don’t be late while returning in the evening, as the last bus leaves at five thirty.

    Answer in one word and/or a number.

    The last bus leaves at __________________.

    Which of the following answers are correct.

    a) 05.30
    b) 05:30
    c) 5 Thirty
    d) 5.30 PM
    e) 5.30 pm
    f) 5 thirty

    I answered in as “b”. Thought of writing it as in “c” or “f” as it fits in the condition of one word and/or a number.

  18. Anu Kuriyan says:

    Dear Andrea,
    It’s been long since we met last.Since 2016, I didn’t hear from you. Hope you are doing well.
    To be honest, I’ve been feeling guilty that I delayed writing to you. I have to own up that I damaged your I Pod accidentally. I’m so very sorry. I know how important that I Pod is to you as it was presented to you by your mother on your birthday.
    What happened is that I had been listening to music when the I Pod feel into the sink. When I researched I realized that it is possible to repair the I Pod.
    I’ve sent it away to be repaired. Anyway, it should be working properly when I get it back next week and then sent it on to you.
    Again, I’m so sorry for the delay in letting you know. Hope you can forgive me

    Best Wishes,


  19. Abdul Shakoor says:

    Dear Liz
    I appeared today for my IELTS speaking test (24/3/18). Your guidance worked well and I felt very much confident in handling the questions. Part 1 was about my work, how many times I take food, with whom I want to take food, changes in food over the period of time
    Part-2 was the personality in a foreign country I like, who, why. Supplementary questions included my views about need of learning language and culture in foreign country, why it is need, why people go abroad, what is the best way to know about people living in other parts of the world.
    Tomorrow, my test is scheduled for Reading, Writing and Listening. Again looking at the tips and appreciate your acumen of putting up all the things in order. Masha Allah

  20. Hello, Liz. Why are all my comments awaiting moderation.

    • a) because there are now over 10 thousand comments waiting b) because I am on holiday c) because I do not offer a question/answer service – I have never offered that service.

  21. hey liz
    I am taking my ietls eam day after tomorrow. I have got new passport issued (I uploaded scanned copy of new one while registering). I just wanted to know if I have to carry photocopy of only new passport or the old passport photocopy is also important?
    Do I need to carry both passports(old as well as new in original) to ielts test center ?

  22. HI
    this letter is less that 150 words so is it ok

  23. Dear Liz.

    I have a horrible hand writing. How would that affect my writing test?

    • If the examiner has a problem reading your writing, then it will be a problem. Practise writing with bigger gaps between words to make your writing clearer. You can also allow yourself 2 mins after you finish writing to ensure that words are clearer.

  24. I want to sincerely appreciate your effort for people like us, doing all of these without you asking for anything in return. However, my question in on the tone to use to write letters. should the tone be according to formal, informal and semi-formal that you mentioned above?

    • The tone changes depending on who you are writing to and the purpose of the letter. This means is depends on the letter being formal, informal (or on rare occasions semi-formal, which means a letter to close personal friend based on a serious topic such as work).

      • Syed Abidur Rahman says:

        Hi X

        It is been so long since we last met. Since October, 2017 I did not hear from you. Hope will meet you soon in next summer.

        I would like to apologise to inform you that the flash drive i have borrowed from you is got damaged. It is not anymore workable when it get affected by severe virus attack.

        When i was using it to transfer data from it to my laptop suddenly i have received virus notification on the screen and i was trying to scan with anti virus which was not success anymore. I have tried even in a repairing shop and they informed me it will not be repairable as it’s chips get distorted by the virus affect.

        I would love to buy a new one with same storage capacity in terms of volume. I may will not get same brand. In that case if you have any preference about brand let me know. Hopefully i will arrange myself to buy one as your recommendation and will send you by couple of days.

        Hope hearing back from you soon.

        Yours Sincerely,

        • sorry to say but it sounds thats user doesn’t have any regret for damage …. i think a person should be more polite…. with his words!

  25. Do you need to skip a line between signing off and name, for example

    Yours truly,


    Yours truly,

  26. This is a general question with respect to the writing test. Can we use running or cursive handwriting for the writing test?

  27. Hello Liz,
    Is it necessary to have equal number of lines in each paragraph? someone said it should be done that way…

  28. Hello Liz,

    Request you to please guide me, if the below sentence is grammatically correct;
    ‘Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.’

    Awaiting your response.

    Best Regards,

  29. Chinna Philippa says:

    Hello liz, i noticed you used ‘this’ instead of ‘the’ in formal letter. Pls explain. Thank you

    • “this” is used for referencing. It is part of English grammar. Please look in a grammar book. I do not provide English language lessons.

  30. Kanwarinder Rana says:

    Hi Liz, I have been going through almost all your educational videos, therefore my query for this Task 1 video is that I’m aware of 4-5 paragraphs in Task 2 but as per your examples, there are many paragraphs in Task 1 as well, can you enlighten me on this as I’ve been advised to only have three paragraphs, Intro- covering all the asked parameters in the second one – Ending.
    Need your expertise on the above-stated matter.


  31. Hi Liz,
    in letters related to complain to airlines, where we have to mention our name, flight no. and contact no.

  32. hi liz I notice that you used S and not Z when you spell some words..will you be penalized if you used American spelling of words in the writing task?

    • “s” is UK spelling and “z” is US spelling. You can choose which one you like. But choose only one – don’t mix them.

  33. Hi Teacher Liz,
    I have practiced few letters from your page “Letter Writing Essential Tips” and I want to share my answers with everyone.
    Where can I post my letter samples for students help?


  34. Dear Liz, Thanks for such wonderful tips and practice matters provided. I have a very basic question about starting the next paragraph in writing tasks. Should we start new paragraph from the immediate next line or leave space of one line ?

  35. Dear Liz,
    Could you please explain the difference between semi-formal and formal letters? I’m not sure about the difference between those two

    • Formal letters are about formal subjects and to someone you do not have a personal relationship with. Do you understand the term “personal relationship”? This means you chat to them about your dreams, your problems and share your family life with them – such as a good friend. Although you know a boss, you do not have a personal relationship with them.
      A semi-formal letter is to someone you have a personal relationship with, such as a good friend, about a serious topic, like a job. It is not about a party or a personal topic.

  36. Dear Liz,
    Today was my speaking test, despite knowing the difference between natural tourism sites and built tourism sites, I gave my answer regarding the built tourism sites and how they got effected with visitors.
    P.S. The question was something like, ‘Does natural sites get effected with a number of visitors every year?’

    Is it a major mistake ?? :,(((

  37. Hello Liz,
    what if instead of I, we use Undersigned in the formal letter?, does that make any sense or its better to go ahead with I itself

  38. Hi Liz,
    Can we use a word ‘ To recapitulate’ in stead of ‘to conclude’in assays writing task 2?
    Kindly confirm.

  39. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Also aren’t there suppose to be headline on a formal letter?

  40. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Does that mean it won’t be necessary for me to put address for ielts purpose when writing my task 1?
    Plus thanks for thanks for answering my previous question. You are so good to have around as a companion. Soon I will be one of your bloggers that will make you proud.

    • There is no address written on IELTS letter. You only write an address inside the body if the instructions ask you to.

  41. Thanks Liz. Such a simple example of formal / informal letter you have given beautifully, even laymen can understand.

    My question is to you is, at the time of test if we write this type of letter in simple form whether it’s formal or informal. What band we can expect from the examiner?

    • I do not understand “simple form”. Your layout and paragraphs should be simple and easy to understand in order to get a high score. Ideas should be easy to understand and relevant to the task for a high score. Sentences should be complex (in IELTS criteria for complex, this means not simple) and vocabulary showing a range with less common items. So, the letters above fulfil the marking criteria of higher band scores for IELTS.

  42. Thanks Liz. Your lessons are very helpful

  43. Suara Ibrahim says:

    Is there a specific number of words I suppose to write in either forms of letters above?

    • As with all writing task 1, you must write over 150 words. How can you not know the rules of IELTS? Surely, you have practised real IELTS tests at home.

  44. Thanks for sharing Liz! Really helpful!

  45. Khanhnguyen says:

    Very Good lesson. Thank you for your helf .

  46. Hello Liz. Thanks for the great job you are doing. I did my speaking test but I was down with cough which I informed the examiner before the test. Subsequently I discovered that the cough really affected the flow of my speaking and it made my pronunciation thick. Hope this will not affect my score ?

  47. Aneeta Philip says:

    I have a slight difficulty with analysing semi formal and formal letters.

    • Informal letters are to people who you know closely as a personal friend – so you write in that style. Formal letters are to people who might know (not closely – possibly through work only) or don’t know and the content is formal.

  48. Pawan Saini says:

    Hi Liz, this question had appeared inmy exam on oct 14 (about borrowing something from a friend which got broken and next steps). At first i apologized to my friend. I had written about a “party glasses” which got broken on dance floor as someone pushed me and it fell under someone’s feet. As they were imported one, i could help my friend getting the same one as my elder brother was supposed to return from abroad or i could pay in cash. He has both the choices. I had written that story. Let me know if it is good to get score. My result is awaited on this Friday Nov 3.

  49. Dear Liz,
    I am writing to ask you how I can regiter to your lecture

    • I do not offer lectures. I have tips and practice exercises on this site which you can use for free at this month. Go to the main pages accessed through the red bar at the top of the website.

  50. Hi Liz,

    How to identify whether to write a formal letter or informal letter? Is it mentioned in the question specifically?

    • You write formally to someone you have a formal relationship with. You write informally to someone you have an informal relationship with. It isn’t difficult. It is common sense and “no, IELTS do not tell you which one to write”.

  51. Amani Flaifl says:

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you so much, you are great, these letters and so easily to learn and so simple to remember and to study, I am following up all your emails and free lessons and it’s really useful, thank you again for your time and effort that you spent.


  52. how to differentiate whether we need to write formal apology letter or informal?

  53. Thanks a million Lize for useful letter writting samples and modele answers.

  54. Good morning Liz, I hope you are well.
    I just read the formal apology letter. I do not understand the last bullet point about compensating the company if you are late for a meeting. Is it not mentioned in the example letter. Please clarify this for me.
    Kindest regards,

    • You need to be very careful with vocabulary. To compensate a company means money. But this is not compensating a company. It is about compensating missing a meeting – the meaning is “how will you catch up” / “how will you make up for missing the meeting”. Don’t confuse the different meanings of compensate which depend on the context.

  55. Thanks Liz…
    your lessons are very helpful..
    just one question ..in the informal letter above , i did not understand “should be a good as new” ..is it – as good as

    thanks again

  56. SILPA THOMAS says:

    Thanks a lot

  57. Woooooow….many many thanks
    It was my request…you are great
    God bless you

  58. Hi Liz,

    I’m a little confused reading the informal letter, as there are many contractions in it. Is it ok to use contractions in a letter for the exam?
    I was told by a teacher not to use any contractions while writing, bit use them while speaking.

    • Be careful following rules. Contractions are informal and can only be used for informal writing. You will see that contractions are used for the informal letter above but they are not used for the formal letter above. If you fail to use contractions in an informal letter, you will lose marks.

  59. Yasmin Nour says:

    Pleeeeease liz answer because me because I am very worried 😢 in my speaking test the card was about businesses person and I talked about famous heart surgeon ? Is it wrong ? 😢😢😢

  60. Thank you Liz for sharing this.. you always come up with extraordinary lessons and tips.

  61. Thanks so much dear for your work and time and you are always giving us the free materials,techniques and traits that are highly appeticaited .
    Really,I always go through with your all statagies which you uploaded and its very conducive and helpful. God bless you. Asma khan

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