Dec 02

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How To Refuse an Invitation Politely – Now I Know

Refusing an invitation can be a challenge even in your first language. When you turn someone down, you need to be careful not to hurt their feelings. Let’s see how to refuse an invitation POLITELY in English!




Refusals always follow this pattern in English:


  1. Thank the invitation:  Thanks so much, but….
  2. Express regret (= say that you are sorry): I’m so sorry I can’t make it. It sure sounds like fun! Unfortunately,..
  3. Give an excuse (= say why you can’t go): I already have plans for Saturday.


Letting someone down face-to-face (= in person)


I’d love to go, but…..

Thanks so much, but……

This party sounds great, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome! Unfortunately,….

Oh that sounds really nice, but unfortunately,…

It’s so nice of you to have thought of me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it on Saturday…

Awww, man! I’m sorry, I can’t go. Can I take a rain check (= can we meet another time)? (informal)

I already have plans for Saturday. It’s a pity, I would have loved to be there. Rain check?

Jay has a karate competition/school play that evening and I have to be there to cheer him on. Have some champagne for me, though!

It turns out I have something else at that time, and unfortunately I will not be able to make it. I’m sorry. Hope it will work out next time!

I promised my Mom to take her to dinner and I wouldn’t want to cancel on her, she’s been looking forward to spending some quality time with me. How about we meet up sometime next week? We could do dinner and I’d give you your present…


Turning down an invitation in writing


I appreciate the invite, but…

I really appreciate you thinking of me but…

I wish I could go, however…

Your invitation means a great deal to me but…

This means a lot but…

I would rather be at your party but…

I have a prior commitment for that day.

I have a prior commitment I must keep.

I have an appointment I can’t move that day.

Sample letter – Refusing an invitation

Dear (name of the person),
Thank you (ever) so much for your invitation to your wedding. I am grateful that you included me among your guests for this very special day. I wish I could be there!
Unfortunately  I have a prior commitment that day that I must keep. I’m sure that your wedding will be amazing, and I am truly sorry that I’ll miss it. I will think of you all day and I hope that all goes as planned. I am looking forward to seeing you and the pics(!) very soon!
I appreciate your thinking of me.
Warmest wishes,
(Your name)


If you like our lessons, share them with friends and colleagues. Thanks!



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