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An email request

Learn how to write a formal email to make a request.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.

Reading text

Dear Ms Leitman,

I am writing to request your help following a change in my circumstances.

As you know, I am enrolled on the Basic Spanish course at your college, which starts in September. However, due to unforeseen family events, I have had to leave the country for a while to assist my parents in Hong Kong.

At present it is not clear when I will be able to return and unfortunately I will not be able to start the course as planned.

I would like to request a refund for the course fees already paid. I apologise for the short notice and for any inconvenience caused. In the event that a refund is not possible, I would be grateful if you could postpone my enrolment until my return.

Thank you in advance for your help and I hope to be able to update you on the situation soon.

Yours sincerely,

Honor Singh


  1. Organise the letter clearly into:
    • The reason for writing
    • The nature of the problem
    • The outcome you'd like
    • An apology for the inconvenience
  2. Don't go into too much personal detail when explaining the problem, as this is a formal situation with a person you don't know well.
  3. To make polite requests use the phrase I would be grateful if you could …
  4. Using nouns instead of verbs can make your writing sound more formal. (For example, instead of My circumstances have changed, say There has been a change in my circumstances.)
  5. Sign off Yours sincerely, if you know the person's name and Yours faithfully, if you don't.



Language level

Advanced: C1


In 2016 I had to cancel my tourist trip to Spain because of currency shortage . The us dolor and the euro was not available in the banks.

Last summer I organised a visit of a university in Germany. However, due to an unforeseen issue I had to cancel the trip. Since it was a professional trip the ticket was purchased by my employer. Furthermore, my host was providing me the accommodation. Fortunately, both my boss and my host in Germany understood the problem and accepted my apologies. Hence, it went smooth without creating a big problem. However, I was very upset of missing the trip as it was a very beneficial mission. Anyway, such events can occur once in a while and one must be prepared to manage them in the best possible way.