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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Writing formal letters    

Writing formal letters


Writing formal letters
Hi there, I�ve got a question regarding FORMAL LETTERS in Advanced English. I have been taught the use of present simple to state the purpose of my letter: "If write to express my dissatisfaction...", However, the use of present continuous seems to be more frequent, "I am writing to express my dissatisfaction" Is the use of present simple not correct any more? Thanks in advance!

19 Jul 2023      

United States

I don�t know about the official "rules", but I usually use the present continuous "I am writing to express my dissatisfaction..."

21 Jul 2023     

United Kingdom

Agree - I would use present continuous. The present simple, in my humble opinion, sounds rather pompous! 

21 Jul 2023     

United Kingdom


25 Jul 2023     


Hello everyone,
I don�t know how to delete swooptaxi�s message,... It�s pure advertising for his/her taxi company. So I�m trying  to push the message away. 
Any ideas how we can  delete it?
 Hugs from Burgundy.

25 Jul 2023     


You did the right thing, Murielle!

27 Jul 2023     


According to Michael Swan in his "Practical English Usage", present simple is preferred in formal letters, as present progressive is less formal: 
"We write to advise you ....." is more formal than "we are writing to advise you...."
In the same way,  "I look forward to hearing from you..."  is more formal (and preferred in formal letters) than
 "I am looking forward to hearing from you". 
Well, as you say, grammar rules may be different from the general use. So, I do thank you, Douglas and Cunliffe, for your answers.
As a teacher of English teaching how to write a formal letter to my advanced students what should I tell them to use then? I assume present continuous is the best option, isn�t it?
Thanks in advance 

28 Jul 2023     

American Samoa

Hello, You�ve raised an interesting question about the use of tenses in formal letters. Both the present simple and present continuous tenses are commonly used to state the purpose of a letter, and neither is incorrect. The choice between them often comes down to personal style and context. Using the present simple, such as "I write to express my dissatisfaction," can convey a sense of directness and formality. It�s a straightforward way to state your purpose without any additional nuances. On the other hand, the present continuous, like "I am writing to express my dissatisfaction," can add a touch of immediacy to your statement. It might suggest that you are in the process of composing the letter as you write that sentence, which can create a slightly more engaging tone. Both options are grammatically correct, and the decision ultimately depends on the tone and emphasis you wish to convey. Feel free to choose the one that best suits your writing style and the overall tone of your formal letter. Best regards, Danial from online service Do my course for me

2 Aug 2023     


Certainly - I would recommend opting for the present continuous tense for better accuracy, especially when discussing "construction work gloves." In my humble opinion, using the present simple tense in this context might come across as a bit formal and self-important.

28 Aug 2023     


thanks so much for your answers!

16 Oct 2023