How to Write a Pen Pal for the First Time

  1. Use their name. You don’t need to repeat their name a bunch of times throughout the letter, but definitely use their name specifically in the greeting. You might also mention their name one other time later on in the letter.
    • You should also mention your own name early on in the letter, even though it may already be on the envelope. This way you complete the introduction and greeting.
  2. Write a simple greeting. Before you get into the main content of the letter, take a little bit of time to say hello, mention you are excited to be writing, and wish them well. You could write, “How are you doing today?” or “I hope this letter finds you well.” or “ It’s nice to meet you through letters!”[1]
    • A greeting helps the reader transition into the letter rather than immediately diving into all the details you plan to share with them. Think of the letter as a conversation, except that for now you are the only one talking. You wouldn’t start a conversation with immediately telling some a bunch of information without greeting them first.
  3. Tell them some basics about yourself. Age, sex, and location (not necessarily your address) are a good place to start because these give the person an idea of who you are. You can expand from this point by mentioning things like your grade or occupation, who is in your family, and a couple characteristics about you, like you enjoying laughing, you hate math homework, or your religious affiliation.[2]
    • Your first letter is an introduction, so treat it as such. What would you tell a person you just met? Tell your pen pal those same things.
    • Remember to be safe if you are young, or even a teenager. Talk to your parents before writing and especially before revealing personal information.
  4. Mention how you found them. You most likely used a pen pal service or forum of some sort, so it is always good to tell the person where you got their information from. You could also include at this point whether you have written to other people, how long you have been using this service or mention why you chose them to write to.[3]
    • If you saw specific information in their profile that made you want to write to them, you could mention that and tell why it sparked your interest. Tell them what your relationship to that thing is and ask them to tell you more about it.
  5. State a specific purpose you have for writing. You may be seeking a pen pal for a specific reason, like learning a new language or learning about a new culture, so tell the person this. Maybe you are just looking for someone to talk to, or you are moving into a new stage in life and want some encouragement. It can be good to let the person know your intentions for your relationship.
    • Don’t come on too strong by telling them you are really lonely and just need someone to listen. Even if you feel that way, telling them will probably make them uncomfortable and they may not write back to you.
  6. Write a closing. You have tons of options for how to close a letter, but for pen pals it is good to thank the person for their time reading your letter. You don’t necessarily want to end the letter by saying, “Please write back,” or “I look forward to hearing from you,” as this may make them feel obligated. Simply thank them for taking the time to read your letter and tell them to have a nice day.[4]
    • Be sure to sign your name at the end.

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.english-room.com/penfriends_main.html
  2. http://uncustomary.org/50-things-to-tell-your-penpal/
  3. https://www.globalpenfriends.com/index.php?page=pen pal_introductory_letter
  4. https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-end-a-letter-2062308

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