WITHOUT looking at any actual letters or envelopes, which of these is the correct way to lay out a British address?
  • Ms Sam Anther Well Court Flat 5b Downer Road Boghampton BO3 3IE
  • Ms Sam Anther Flat 5b Well Court Downer Road Boghampton Watshire BO3 3IE
  • Ms Sam Anther Boghampton Downer Rd Well Ct 5b BO 33 IE
  • Ms Sam Anther Well Court Flat 5b Downer Road Watshire BO3 3IE
As a temporary resident in Britain, you receive a letter on behalf of a Government department, opening it eagerly for news of your status. Which of these opening phrases would you instantly regard as MOST worrying?
  • Dear M/r/s X, We write to advise you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, We regret to inform you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, We wish to advise you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, We write to inform you that ...
Which of the following openings, of an otherwise similar formal letter, would be most likely to offer you hope and relief?
  • Dear M/r/s X, We write to advise you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, We write to inform you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, We are pleased to advise you that ...
  • Dear M/r/s X, Please accept this letter and attached documents as official confirmation that ...
According to traditional convention, if the letter began 'Dear M/r/s X., ... ', what phrase should correctly be used to sign it off?
  • Yours truly
  • Yours in all honesty
  • Yours sincerely
  • Yours faithfully
As a fairly well-known member of the expatriate community where you are living/staying, you receive a formal invitation as follows; which would (officially) be the appropriate way to reply? 'On behalf of the Boghampton International Twinning Committee The Mayor and Mayoress of Boghampton request the pleasure of the company of ( ... your name ... ) at a Drinks Reception in the Civic Suite at Boghampton Town Hall from 7:15pm on Friday 31st June Lounge Suits R.S.V.P.'
  • Thank you very much, I would be honoured to attend the Twinners' Civic Reception.
  • (Your own name) is delighted to accept the Mayor and Mayoress' kind invitation to the evening Twinning Reception on 31 June.
  • It was very kind of the Mayor to invite me to the Twinners' Reception.
  • Dear Mr and Mrs Mayor, I look forward to attending the Twinners' Reception; Yours sincerely ( + your own name )
You are reading the local news ~ always a good way of keeping your language fresh, along with your memories of places and people you met there ~ for a part of Britain where you previously spent some time (maybe as an au-pair in a family, or as a longish-term homestay TEFL student), and which you therefore remember particularly fondly. To your dismay, there has been a murder in this town or village (quite a small community, and now fairly obviously shocked at what's happened). The report ends by saying: 'A local man in his late twenties is currently helping police with their enquiries'. What does this tell you?
  • Someone local has gone along to volunteer to help the detectives, by working alongside them.
  • The young man is in dialogue with the police because they have strong reason to suspect that he knows about the murder, and may indeed have committed it himself.
  • The man has been arrested, taken to the police station, and is expected to be charged with the murder.
  • The man is a civilian forensic specialist working alongside the police, but the media have 'latched onto him' for some other reason because he may tell them more than the police can.
Following from Question 6, a need may sometimes arise for you to write 'in condolence' to express your sadness that someone you met has died. The ways of doing this will vary more or less infinitely depending on who you are, who they were, how you were connected and who you are writing to afterwards; but which of these might be the safest reasonable start?
  • Dear Grace, I was so sorry to hear from Isobel about your mother, whom I am sure you must each be sadly missing, although it may be some consolation to know she is now beyond pain.
  • Hi Grace: what a shame about your poor Mum after all these years (as Isobel happened to tell me on FaceBook yesterday).
  • My dear Grace, This brings you my very deepest sympathy at such a dreadfully sad time when I am sure you are missing your Mamma most terribly.
  • Hi Grace ~ So sorry I shan't be able to make it over for the funeral, whenever that's now going to be, but I daresay you'll all have as upbeat a time as you can; it's what she would have wanted, I'm sure.
Another potentially uncomfortable situation in which you would have to 'weigh your words' would be when writing to make a formal complaint to some organisation that had treated you badly. These days a first approach would more likely be made on the phone or online, but as a 'prelude' to formal written procedures (maybe even, eventually, involving lawyers) you would wish to register a firm and objective complaint, so you write to the highest level of Manager that you can identify. How might your letter best begin?
  • Dear Sir I am writing this letter to bring to your attention a complaint that arose in relation to my recent purchase of your Model ABCD machine and which almost immediately developed a fault which could potentially have been extremely hazardous in a domestic environment.
  • Dear Mr Braythwaite This really won't do! We just bought one of your ABCD machines like what we saw on the telly ad and I'm telling you, that thing's lethal pretty nearly!
  • Hello Mr Braythwaite, We have a serious complaint here about this ABCD unit of yours which is clearly unfit for purpose and a menace to life and limb.
  • Dear Mr Braythwaite This letter is to register a formal complaint regarding an ABCD machine of yours purchased recently in Badley (receipt attached) and which appears not only to be malfunctioning, but also downright dangerous. We are sure you would wish this to be brought to your attention and we look forward with urgent interest to your response ...
You are writing to a company with whom you were persuaded ~ during an earlier visit to England ~ to take out some form of membership or subscription. You explain to them that you no longer need their service/s and wish to terminate your subscription. Which of these would be the most appropriate and diplomatic way to conclude your letter?
  • In any case the [product/service] was getting boring and beneath my level of interest, so it's just as well you reminded me about the renewal anniversary and I can cancel forthwith with a clear conscience.
  • I'd begun having my doubts about the quality and relevance of your [service/product] some while ago; and in any case, your raising the annual subscription level yet again was frankly the final straw.
  • May I close by thanking you for these years of enjoying using your [service/product] and wish you every success with your ongoing and future clients? Yours faithfully, ...
  • In conclusion I would reiterate that your [service/product] has been unfailingly regular and of consistently superb quality; it is merely a matter of personal circumstances which oblige me to discontinue our association. Very truly yours ever, ...
You have been invited, by a British organisation, to submit a Character Reference for a longstanding friend. You do not wish to make him out as unbelievably perfect: like anyone else, he has his 'good days and bad days', is occasionally unpunctual, and will not always just 'take it on the chin' when he is treated shoddily by managers or customers. What fairly standard phrases can you safely use to hint at these quite normal human qualities, without it sounding unduly critical?
  • 'X is fair-minded by disposition, yet also willing to be reasonably flexible in his dealings at work.'
  • 'X has a keen sense of justice and sets high standards for himself and others.'
  • 'I am glad to have this opportunity to recommend X as a longstanding personal friend, through thick and thin.'
  • 'X certainly has his moments ~ but basically, deep down, he's as good a chap as any of us.'
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