10 Tips how to write A Letter of Advice

10 Tips how to write A Letter of Advice

10 Tips Series – A Letter of Advice




1.  Remember it’s your friend

This is the point that should sustain your whole letter.  How would you actually talk to your friend?  Don’t patronise them.  Don’t use too much formal language.  Show genuine concern.

I was really troubled to hear that you were having problems with your parents.  I wish I could be there to help.   

2.  Friendly first sentence

When you write a letter, it’s a good idea to begin with a general greeting: hello, how are you, long time no see, etc.  Don’t just jump in with your advice.

It was great to get your letter.  I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while, but have kept putting it off – sorry about that!

3.  Sympathise with the problem 

There is nothing worse than someone who dispenses advice like a vending machine.  The first thing you need to do is show that you have understood and sympathise with the problem your friend is having.

I was sorry to hear that you’d failed your maths exam.  I know just how you feel – I failed an exam last summer and I was devastated. 

4.  Give specifics and use your imagination

It’s no good to your friend to give general advice. Your friend is not a ‘general principle’.  They are an individual.  You need to give specific advice that’s tailored to their needs.   

I think it would be a good idea to start learning Japanese if you plan on moving to Japan – did you know that there’s a beginners’ class starting at the local community centre next Monday?


It is boring for the examiner to read the same ideas being repeated time and again.  Get specific.  Make up a restaurant name, make up dates, make up anything that will make your letter more realistic and useful.

Have you considered taking a part-time job at that sushi restaurant near your house – I think it’s called Nippon Inn.  My friend went there last Tuesday and said they were looking for a part-time chef.   

5.  Put yourself in their situation – Use conditionals

In a letter of advice it’s a good idea to think about the other person’s point of view.  Use phrases like “If I were you” or “If I were in your shoes.”

If I were you, I’d ask my teacher for a private meeting to talk about my concerns. 

6.  Use modals

The verbs ‘should’ and ‘ought to’ are likely to appear in your letter as these are the classic verbs we use for giving advice. 

It shouldn’t be too much of a problem for your parents to do this. 

7.  Use informal vocabulary

Remember, you’re writing to a friend.  Would you really use structures like “I would like to add” in a letter to a friend?

I know you’ve been hard up [=needing money] lately, and I hope you’ll get things sorted [resolve the situation] soon

8.  Get your connectors right

Don’t use phrases like “moreover” or “in addition to the points I’ve already mentioned”.  These are much too formal for a letter to a friend.

First off, you should think about…

You could also consider…


9.  Use question tags

Question tags are useful when you want to elicit a response from your friend.  It is a good sentence pattern to be used in a letter of advice.

You should consider asking your boss for a pay rise – the worst he can say is ‘no’, isn’t it?

10.  End with reassurance. 

Remember that your friend is very worried.  That’s why they wrote to you.  So it’s your job to make them feel better.  Let them know that “everything’s going to be alright”…

Try not to worry too much about it.  Get enough sleep, and if you need me, I’m only a phone call away! 

10 Tips how to write A Letter of Advice

10 Tips Video – A Letter of Advice

10 Tips Series – Video (A Letter of Advice)

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