Writing to a Pen pal

Hi there Lo!

I got your question about writing to a pen pal. I am sorry for taking a while: I just saw it today (23rd February)!

I will try to answer the question as best as I can.

Your question is:

How are you going to start a letter with this type of question:

While browsing through a teenage magazine, you came across the pen pal page and see the following among the list of names:

Gretchen Frank, age 17
Add: Rugenstrasse 19,
D81479 Munich,

Interests: reading, listening to the radio, travelling, friendly correspondence

As you share the same interests with Frank and are interested in furthering your studies in Germany after high school, you wish to correspond to her. Write a letter to tell her a little about yourself, family and school.

I understand that you want to know how to start the letter. You also want to know the best language to use.

I will not only show you how to start the letter; but I will also write a sample letter.

Here is how you go about it:

Before you even start thinking about how to start, you have to organize your thoughts. You have to understand what kind of pen-pal Frank wants. All you want to do is convince her that you are exactly what she is looking for.

Take note of her interests:

reading, listening to the radio, travelling, friendly correspondence

You have to make special mention of these in your letter. Tell her that you love doing these things. The question demands that you also tell her about yourself, family and school. Take care to mention too your intentions of furthering your studies in Germany.

The first thing to do is make a draft:

  1. introduction
  2. Body
  3. conclusion

Now, under the relevant section, place the information that you should include in your letter:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
    • about my self
    • about my family
    • about my school
    • studying in Germany
  3. Conclusion
    • request reply

Good. Now, let us take one thing at a time:


This is where you extend your friendly salutation, or greeting. In informal writing, the greeting should be friendly. Since this is the first time you are writing to Gretchen, and no relationship exists yet, “Dear Gretchen” is okay.

Note that Gretchen is in 17. This helps you determine the tone of your letter. Use language that is common with people this age. Obviously are you around this age, and this should be easy for you.

In your introduction, mention that you saw her ad in the magazine and that you are the kind of pen-pal she is looking for.

Therefore, this how you could write your salutation and first paragraph:

Dear Gretchen,

I Hope you are doing great. I was thrilled to see your ad in the magazine under the pen-pal section. You are exactly the kind of friend I have been looking for! Your interests match mine exactly!

How about that for an introduction? Does it sound friendly to you?


Add meat to the draft. In the section about yourself, make special mention of your interests. Remember, they should echo those of Gretchen.

You should also give your full name and age, as Gretchen would need this.

  • about my self
    • reading
    • listening to the radio
    • travelling
    • friendly correspondence
  • about my family
  • about my school
  • studying in Germany

Now let us convert this draft into a detailed body:

My name is Maria May. I am a girl aged sixteen from Malaysia. I am the only girl in a family of four. I’ve three younger brothers. They get to be such a pain sometimes! But anyway, I love them still. My father is a farmer (actually we all live on a farm) and my mom is a teacher. She teaches tenth graders at the school I go to.

I’m doing my eleventh grade. My school is just about thirty minutes walk from home. Mom and I usually go together, and we prefer walking to talking a bus. It is lovely to watch the beautiful green tea plantations and breathe in the fresh air. My school is rather small and has only about a thousand pupils. It is a high school, so this should explain the small number of pupils.

Just like you, I love reading, especially novels. It is no wonder that I was chosen librarian last week! I have a big collection of novels of all kinds! Which ones are your favourite?

I am also a music lover. I spend most of my afternoon days listening to music. I’ve actually made a couple of songs of my own! Are you into singing as well?

Travelling is one of the things that I really enjoy. I’ve been to many places. One of the places I visited recently was India. It is a great place and I wouldn’t mind living there! The people are lovely and there are many wonderful sights to see. Which places have you visited yourself?

I am so glad to add you to my pen-pal friends. I love writing letters too. I already have six pen-pals! You are going to be my seventh! I really can’t wait to get a letter from you!

By the way, after I complete school, I’ve intentions of coming to further my studies in Germany! I’m currently pushing in a scholarship. So when I’m selected, I’ll be totally thrilled! I’ll be swimming in happiness! It would certainly be nice to see you in person!

Please write and tell me about yourself and your country. If possible, include some information on some of the colleges you have there, and if they admit foreign students.

Stay blest, Gretchen. I am very much looking forward to hearing from you.

Okay, we are almost done with the letter. Now we need to close it off. And here is how we’ll do it:

Take care,

Maria May.

Okay, here is how the letter looks now:

letter to pen pal

Did you notice too that I asked several questions? Questions help you to give someone a basis on which to reply.

In conclusion, I will say only this: Great language is one that the other person will understand; language that is clear and straight forward. At the same time it must be friendly and chatty.

There are really no hard and fast rules about how to write an informal letter. All you need is the desire to communicate with great people, and great friends…Before you know it, you will have plenty of pen pals!

I hope I have answered your question Lo!

All the best!

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