Layout of the letter:
It is essential that students get familiar with the layout as they can score some easy and precious marks.
At Higher level, 5 marks are allocated to the format (3 for the place and date on the same line: Bordeaux, le 20 juin; 1 for the opening: Cher/Chère…; and 1 for the closing formula: Amitiés, followed by the signature)
Make sure you check our “Postcards” section as there is plenty of vocabulary you could use to write informal letters, especially when talking about holidays.
- Cher Paul
- Chère Mathilde
- Cher Papa
- Chère Maman
- Mes chers parents
- Cher grand-père
- Chère grand-mère
- Cher oncle
- Chère tante
Always begin with a nice friendly phrase or inquiry to lead you into the main body of the letter.
- Merci beaucoup de ta dernière lettre…Thanks for your last letter.
- Merci pour la carte postale que j’ai reçue hier…Thanks for the postcard I got this morning.
- J’ai reçu ta carte d’anniversaire hier matin…I got your birthday card yesterday morning.
- Comment vas-tu et ta famille?…How are you and your family?
- Comment allez-vous là-bas?…How are you all there?
- Ça va bien, chez toi/chez-vous?…Everything alright with you?
- Je m’excuse de ne pas avoir écrit depuis un mois…I’m sorry I haven’t written for a month
- J’écris pour te dire de mes nouvelles……I’m writing to tell you the news.
- J’écris pour t’informer que…I’m writing to tell you that…
- Say why you are writing – to say thank you, to inquire about something / someone, to answer an inquiry, to give congratulations, to explain why you have not written of late.
- J’ai reçu ton cadeau ce matin. Quelle surprise!…I got your present this morning. What a surprise!
- Comment va ton père après son accident?…How is your Dad after his accident?
- Comment est-ce que tu as fêté ton anniversaire?…How did you celebrate your birthday?
- Tu m’as demandé de te décrire une journée typique dans mon école …You asked me to tell you about a typical school day
- J'ai des nouvelles à t’annoncer – je me suis cassé la main!…I have some news to tell you - I broke my hand!
Don’t forget to ask questions and to use suitable comments and explanations to give variety to your writing.
- Comment as-tu passé les vacances de Pâques?…How did you spend the Easter holidays?
- Je viens de finir mes examens… I’ve just finished my exams.
- Les maths étaient faciles/durs… Maths were easy/difficult.
- Je crois que j’ai réussi à mes examens… I think that I passed my exams.
- Et toi, as-tu reçu de bonnes notes après les examens?…Did you get good grades in your exams?
- Cette semaine à l’école – C’était casse-pieds!…This week at school was a pain in the neck!
- Le film que j’ai vu ce weekend – C’était super chouette! …The film I saw this weekend was brilliant!
- Tu aimes le rugby mais ça m’énerve beaucoup!…You like rugby but it really annoys me!
- Mon école a gagné le championnat. Et toi?…My school won the championship. And yours?
- Est-ce que tu veux venir en vacances avec nous ?... Do you want to go on holidays with us ?
- Ça te dirait d’aller en Espagne ?... Would you fancy going to Spain ?
- Voilà! C’est tout……Well that’s all!
- Écris-moi bientôt/vite…Write to me soon
- C’est tout pour l’instant…That’s all for now
- Je dois te laisser… I have to leave you
- J’attends ta réponse avec impatience…I look forward to hearing from you
- J’ai hâte d’avoir de tes nouvelles… I am looking forward to hearing your news.
- Dis bonjour à tes parents…Say hello to your parents
- Dis salut à tes copains/à ta soeur…Say hi to your friends / sister
- Bien à toi…..Yours
- Bien amicalement…..Yours warmly
- Grosses bises…..Hugs and kisses ( never from a boy to a boy)
- Affectueusement…Affectionately ( never from a boy to a boy)
- Meilleures pensées……Best wishes
Past exam papers (Higher level)
You have just gone back to school after the Christmas holidays. Your French penpal Philippe has sent you a Christmas present. Write a letter in French to Philippe. In your letter:
- thank him for his letter and the present
- tell him what you did during the Christmas holidays
- give him some news about your best friend
- tell him about your plans for your birthday
- ask him to come and visit you next summer.
You are on a school exchange in France. You are staying with a French family and attending school. Write a letter in French to your penpal Marie-Caroline who lives in another part of France. In your letter :
- tell her about your journey from Ireland to France
- describe the family with whom you are staying
- say what you think of the French school
- ask her what she will do next weekend
- send your regards to her parents.
It is the month of June. You have just finished the Junior Certificate. Write a letter to your
French penpal Paul in which you:
- thank him for his last letter
- tell him something about the exams
- tell him about your plans for the weekend
- ask him if he is going to work for the summer
- give him some news about your family.
You have just returned home from two weeks in Rennes with your French penpal,
Christophe, and his family. Write a letter to Christophe, in which you:
- thank him and his family for your wonderful holiday
- say what you liked most about your stay in France
- invite him to spend two weeks with you and your family in Ireland next summer
- tell him what you will do together in Ireland
- tell him something about your new French teacher.
The February school break starts tomorrow. Write a letter to your French penpal, Caroline, in which you:
- apologise for not writing sooner and give an excuse
- explain what you are going to do for the break
- talk about a day or evening out you recently had with friends
- ask how she likes her new school
- comment on a good film or book or CD you recently came across.
It’s the month of September and you are just back in Ireland from a holiday with some friends in the south of France. Write a letter to a French friend, Marie-Claire, in which you:
- tell her that you liked the holiday, especially the nice weather
- refer to an interesting village you visited
- say that you have returned to school but you are finding one subject difficult
- tell her you are going on a school tour in October
- ask about her family
It’s the month of May and you are just back from a school tour to Paris. Your pen-pal
Robert lives in the south of France. Write a letter to Robert in which you
- tell him when you arrived home and how you travelled
- say which part of the tour you liked most and why
- tell him you bought a jacket when you were in Paris and describe it
- tell him what you will be doing for your summer holidays
- ask Robert if he is going to his grand-parents’ house again for his summer holidays
Your French pen-pal, Marie-Pascale, has written to you for your birthday and sent you a CD as a present. Write a letter back to her in which you:
- thank her for the letter and present
- tell her something you did for your birthday
- give her some news about your family
- tell her something about the school trip you will be going on next week
- ask her if she would like to come to Ireland at Christmas
You have just returned to Ireland after spending a holiday with your pen-friend Antoine, who lives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Write a letter to Antoine and include the following points:
- thank him for the great holiday
- say what you liked most about Switzerland
- say something about your journey back to Ireland
- tell him some news about your family
- mention some things you will do next summer when Antoine comes to Ireland.