Essay Writing (Formal Letters): Letters of Complaints

Remember that formal letters are letters to offices rather than persons, and so are regarded as impersonal letters. As such, they should neither contain personal greetings nor discussion of personal affairs. They include.

  1. Letters to offices and business houses
  • Applying for jobs.
  • Making requests.
  • Replying to official letters
  • Complaining about a faulty product etc.
  • Placing orders for books, shoes etc.
  1. Invitations, notices, memos, advertisement, circulars
  2. Letters to institutions asking for admission, permission or making complaints
  3. Letters to editors of newspapers, magazines etc. on topics of public interest

The focus here is letters of complaints. These are letters written to address issues that displease the writer and for which he or she would like to express himself.

  • The opening paragraph, contain expressions, like …
  • I regret to inform you that …
  • I feel sad to inform you that ….
  • The closing paragraph contains expressions such as:
  • I look forward to an early reply
  • I expect an urgent action from you.
  • The tone of a letter of complaint should be serious but not rude. Use ‘shall’ and ‘will’ to show strong request, rather than the polite ‘should’ and ‘would’. If you are rude, the recipient may take offence and if you are too polite or soft, the recipient may not take you seriously. You must strike a balance between the two.
  • The topic given will specify what should be the content of the letter. The topic should be understood instructions obeyed. It should not be filled with irrelevance in an attempt to make it voluminous.

Sample Question.

Write a letter to the General Manager of a book shop, complaining about some shortcomings of a branch located in your neighbourhood. It should be about 400 words long.


  • Start with the format for formal letters

5, Oba Akran Road,

P.O Box 1008,



12th June, 2016.

The General Manager,

CMB Bookshop,


Dear Sir,

  • Write the heading:


  • Start with the acceptable expression for letters of complaints:

I feel sad to inform you that …………………………..

  • Give your complaints against the branch e.g. poor services rendered by the staff, exhorbitant prices, refusal to change damaged books, inadequate stock etc.
  • Point out the effect these shortcoming can have on the set-up.
  • Conclude with the acceptable expression for letters of complaint already discussed:

I expect and urgent action from you.

  • End with format for formal letters:

Yours faithfully,

Evans Peter


Use the outline above to write a full length essay.

  1. Sentence Types According to Function

Sentences are classified, according to their functions, as:

  1. Declarative
  2. Interrogative
  3. Imperative
  1. Declarative Sentences (Statements)

A declarative sentence expresses a statement or declaration and usually end with a full stop.

Examples:        (i) She suggested we go by bus.

(ii) The high men took away the money she had.

  1. Interrogative Sentences (Questions)

They are used to ask questions.

Example:         Do you want some oranges?

Can you solve the problem

Where do you live?

  • Imperative Sentences.

These are sentences used when we want to make people do something. Imperatives range from polite requests to sharp orders (or commands). Imperatives are also used to give instructions, directions and make suggestions.

Example:         Would you be kind enough to dust the shelves?

Do you mind dusting the shelves.

Can you please dust the shelves – polite request

Dust the shelves!

Stop !                           Sharp orders.

Leave now

  1. Exclamatory Sentence

They convey different feelings or emotions of love, surprise, anger, hatred. Etc.

Example:         Whoops! I almost smashed the car.

Ugh! How can you drink that.


Identify the sentence type contained in each of the sentences below

  1. Have you been studying hard for your examination?
  2. What an elegant look you have!
  3. Our country has great economic potentials.
  4. Get out of my room!
  5. Speech Work: Diphthongs.

A diphthongs is a double quality vowel. It starts with one quality and ends with another. However, it still function as one vowel. There are eight diphthongs in English and their phonetic symbols indicate the initial and final vowels represented in the articulation.

Diphthongs are generally classified into two groups, taking into consideration the direction of the movement in their production. Thus, there are closing diphthongs –/ eI, ai, Ͻi, ǝƱ, aƱ / and centering diphthongs /Iǝ, eǝ, Ʊǝ /. The closing diphthongs involve gliding movement towards the close region / I, Ʊ/ the centering diphthong on the other hand, are produced with the movement of the tongue towards / ǝ / which is a central vowel.

Sound Letters Keywords
/ eI / ei eight, weight, vein, freight
a..e bake, fake, waste, hate
ai maid, train, brain, laid
ey they, prey
ea break, greate
ay pray, play, may, stray
ol cold, fold
/ ǝƱ/ o Go, no, so, old
oe toe, hoe, foe,
oa goat, toast, boat, loaf, toad.
ow sow, grow, throw, low, borrow
ew sew, shew
ou dough, soul, though, although
/ ai / i hide, tide, bite, site, mind,
uy buy, guy
ye bye, dye
ie tie, pie, tie, tries,
igh high, thigh, right, sight, plight
ei height
hy..e rhyme, thyme
/ aƱ/ ow bow, cow, vow, allow
ou out, about, shout, bout, vouch
ough plough, drought, bough
oun bound, round, found
/ Ͻi / oi oil, boil, toil, coil, soil
oy boy, toy, joy, coy, ploy, employ
/ Iǝ / ere here, mere, sincere
ear clear, fear, sear, rear, dear, near, hear, gear
eer beer, cheer, deer, steer, peer
eir Weird
ea idea, area
oe theory
o hero, period
iou curious, serious, savior
ier pierce, fierce, tier, plier
/ eǝ / are share, care, spare, rare, dare
air fair, air, pair, hair, stairs
ear tear, bear, wear, pear
eir their, heir
ere there, where
ae Aeroplane
/Ʊǝ / ure cure, pure, sure, lure, endure
our your, tour,
oor poor, moor, boor


From the words lettered A – D, choose the word that has the SAME VOWEL SOUND as the one represented by the letter(s) underlined.

  1. sew soothe         B. new             C. soar             D. know
  2. they there           B. day             C. eye              D. key
  3. high ghost          B. low             C. hit               D. buy
  4. oil buoy           B. bay              C. toll              D. tortoise
  5. cheer chair           B. ear               C. check          D. cheat


  1. Summary – How to Answer Summary Question; African Mud Sculpture, pg. 234, Effective English.

Always have these points at the back of your mind before answering summary question

  1. Read the passage carefully.
  2. Determine intention of the writer by resigning the key problems in the passage.
  3. Do not exceed the required number of sentences.
  4. Provide your answer in good sentences bearing in mind sentence structure.
  5. Avoid lifting and unnecessary repetition.

The passage reveals that the brass figures of Benin are well known African art. These figures are crafted by men with high skills


Read the passage and answer related questions.


  1. Identify the figures of speech present in the following expressions.
  2. Life is a stage.
  3. People say women are necessary evil
  4. My driver’s children are pigs.
  5. Dan Musa can drink a whole brewery day.
  6. Dolapo sings like a nightingale.
  7. What are the basic features of a formal letter.


Section A

Instruction: Choose the word that best completes each of the following sentences.

  1. The visitors expressed appreciation for the __________ shown to them during their stay. condemnation    B. pretence    C. hospitality
  2. The principal ________ the students for performing brilliantly in the examination condoned   B. commended     C. admonished
  3. The judge ________ her to two year improvement pronounced    B. sentenced   C. tried
  4. Alinco is generally _________ as the most experienced mason in town. recommended   B. recognized     C. informed
  5. The board of Directors is discussing how the company can be run more _________________ effeminately    B. efficiently     C. effortlessly

See also

Structure – Punctuation Marks; Comma, Semicolon, Question Mark and Colon



Review of Tenses

Vowel and the Consonants

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