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Letter refusing an invitation
January 15, 2019 Anniversary Wishes No comments

When asked to write a letter or a message declining an invitation, no matter the type, the structure is usually the same. The most important thing when refusing.

August 30, 2004

Brenda Minion
General Manager
International Business Society Inc.
673 Hillcrest Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Dear Mrs Minion:

I am pleased and honoured by the invitation to participate in the conference organized by your society, which is to be held in Kansas, September 20-25, 2004.

I must apologize for the slight delay in replying to your letter. I have just returned from Paris after a visit and did not have your address at hand. I did write, however, to Mr Davis, who is to be chairman of the session in which I was invited to present a paper.

I very much regret to say that it will not be possible for me to make any major trip in the autumn owing to bad health. The only thing I can do is send a few comments to Mr Davis for him to use as he sees fit. Needless to emphasize that - were my health better - I should be delighted to attend your conference, which promises to be a great event. Thank you once more for honouring me with your invitation.

With every good wish for the success of the conference.

Yours sincerely,


Samuel B. Magdovitz

I'm writing a letter to refuse the invitation to an international conference for my boss. Can anyone tell me how to write such a kind of letter?.

FREE Sample Refusal Letters

letter refusing an invitation

Accepting an invitation in English is easy. All you need to do is to let the host of the event know that you are able to attend. Sometimes, though, you might need to decline an invitation. Whether it’s because you already have another commitment or simply that you don’t want to go, you need to let the host know in a way that won’t upset him or her. It sounds tricky but it’s actually quite simple as long as you follow these guidelines.

Thank the host

Start by thanking the host for the invitation using a phrase like “Thank you so much for the invitation, I really appreciate it and it means a great deal.” It’s important to let the host know that you appreciate the invitation, even if you are going to decline it later.

Apologise for declining

You can say something like “Sorry I can’t attend” or “I’m afraid I’m not able to come.” These expressions work equally well in spoken or written English so you could use them on the phone or in an email.

Explain why you can’t attend

There are lots of reasons why you might not be able to attend an event. If have already accepted another invitation to an event at the same time, you can say “I’ve already got something on” or if you are too busy to attend, you can say “I’ve got too much on at the moment.” If you are in another city or country at the time of the event, you could say “I’m not in town on that day.”

Offer another time to meet

For informal invitations that you are unable to accept, you could offer an alternative time to meet. For example, if your friend asks you out for drink and you are unable to attend, you could say “I’m afraid I can’t make it on Friday. I’m available next week, though.” Don’t use this for formal events, though, as it would sound rude.

Send a gift or card

If you need to decline an invitation to a formal event such as a wedding, it’s polite to send a card or gift anyway. A gift with a note explaining how sorry you are that you can’t be present lets the host know that you still care about his or her special event.

Test your English level for free now! Take our 10min free EF English Live test and start the English learning challenge. 

Remember, the main thing when declining an invitation is to be polite and tactful. Even if the event isn’t important to you, the fact that you have been invited to it shows that the host would like to share the event with you. Show your respect to the host and use these simple guidelines to make sure everything goes smoothly next time you need to decline an invitation.

Post related: Inviting someone over in English

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Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.

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How to Write a Formal Letter Refusing an Invitation

letter refusing an invitation

There are a number of different ways to extend, accept, and refuse invitations in French, with a tone that is either formal or informal. 

The verb choice, word choice, and sentence structure all play a big part in how invitations and responses are expressed.

Role of Verb Tense and Mood, Person, Tone, and Structure

Formal: In more formal invitations and responses, the speakers seek the highest standards of politeness and so choose sentences using the very polite conditional mood in the main clause.

What's more, the polite vous of the main verb is preferred, and the language is more elevated throughout. Sentences also tend to be more complex in more formal communications.

Informal: In informal invitations and responses, the simple present tense in any part of the sentence or phrase is adequate to convey the intended message, meaning, and casual mood.

What's more, the main verb uses the informal tu form, and the language is light and often breezy. Sentences or phrases tend to be short and to the point.

Extending an Invitation

In the phrases that follow, the blank ___ must be filled with an infinitive in French. In English, however, you'd add either an infinitive or a gerund—depending on the verb that precedes it.

Again, notice the difference in sentence structure for formal versus informal invitations and responses.

  • Vous nous feriez très plaisir si vous pouviez nous consacrer une soirée. (formal) > We would be delighted if you could spend an evening with us.
  • Nous serions très heureux de vous accueillir chez nous. (formal)We would be very happy to welcome you to our home.
  • Je vous invite à ___ (formal) / Je t'invite à ___ (informal) > I invite you to ___
  • Êtes-vous libre ? (formal) / Tu es libre ? (informal) > Are you free?
  • Avez-vous envie de ___ (formal) Do you want to ___?
  • Tu as envie de ___ ? (formal) > Do you feel like ___?
  • Ça te dit de ___ ? (informal) How does ___ sound?
  • Et si on (mange, voit un film) ? (informal) > How about (eating, seeing a movie)?
  • Venez donc ___ (formal) / Viens donc ___ > Come and ___
  • Réponse souhaitée
  • RSVP (Répondez s'il vous plaît)

Accepting an Invitation 

  • Bonne idée ! (informal) > Good idea!
  • Ça va être génial ! (informal) > That'll be cool!
  • Ça va être sympa ! (informal) > That'll be nice!
  • Cela me ferait grand plaisir. > I would be delighted.
  • C'est gentil (de votre part). > That's kind (of you).
  • D'accord. > OK.
  • J'accepte avec plaisir. > I accept with pleasure. / I'll be happy to come.
  • Je viendrai avec plaisir. > I will be glad to come.
  • Je vous remercie. > I thank you. / Thank you.
  • Oui, je suis libre. > Yes, I'm free.

Declining an Invitation

  • Je me vois malheureusement obligé de refuser. (formal) > Unfortunately, I'm obliged to decline.
  • C'est dommage, mais ___ > It's too bad, but ___
  • C'est gentil, mais ___ > That's kind, but ___
  • Désolé, mais ___ > I'm sorry, but ___
  • J'ai quelque chose de prévu. > I have something planned.
  • Je ne peux pas. > I can't.
  • Je ne peux pas me libérer. > I'm unavoidably busyJe ne suis pas libre. >  I'm not free
  • Je suis occupé. > I'm busy.
  • Je suis pris. > I'm otherwise engaged.

Invitation-Related Verbs

  • accepter (avec plaisir) > to accept (gladly, with pleasure) 
  • accueillir > to welcome
  • inviter > to invite
  • une invitation > invitation
  • refuser > to decline

Refusing an invitation can be a challenge even in your first language. When you turn Sample letter – Refusing an invitation. Dear (name of.

Decline an Invitation to an Event

letter refusing an invitation

Business Letters

Refusal Letters

A refusal letter is a negative response to either an invitation or a job offer. Its objective is to notify the reader of a decision to decline. The letter should be kept fairly short. Its scope need only include information that relates to the reasons for not accepting the offer.

If you have been offered a job that you do not intend to accept, write your letter immediately. Remember, you are not the only person that was interviewed. The offer indicates that you are the employer's "first choice." Your prospective employer deserves to be informed of your decision without delay so that an offer can be made to his or her second choice.

Identify Your Reader

A refusal letter should be addressed to a person who has extended an invitation or a job offer that you are either unable or unwilling to accept. You will have most likely met this person during a previous job interview and should place his or her name in the salutation and the inside heading of your reply. It should also be included on the top line of your envelope.

Keep in mind that people do business with people. When you personalize your letter, addressing the reader by name, you recognize that person's individual importance and their value as a human being.

Establish Your Objective

The objective of a refusal letter is to say "no" to either an invitation or a job offer. It notifies the reader of this decision and provides the reason why it is being declined.

Your refusal should begin with a genuine appreciation for the opportunity that was offered. Include a simple "thank you" as you begin your letter. Courtesy never goes out of style and your reader will appreciate your attention in that regard.

Determine Your Scope

The scope of your refusal should be brief and upbeat, explaining the reasons that prevent you from accepting the invitation or offer. In refusing a job offer, restate the title of the position. Doing so reaffirms the essential details of the offer being declined and ensures that your objective is understood.

Inform your reader of the reason(s) why you are declining. Be forthright with the potential employer. Perhaps another company offered a better benefits package or an unexpected opportunity you've been waiting for finally became available.

You are not the first person to decline a job offer; treat it as an opportunity to build good will. After all, you don't know what the future holds. One day you may find yourself knocking on the same door again.

Organize Your Letter

Organizing your refusal letter before you begin to write it will establish a logical order in which to present your information. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.

A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of relevant points and place them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend your refusal. These points will become the backbone of your working draft.

Draft Your Letter

Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft an refusal letter. You organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea

In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible.Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list.

Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.

Close Your Letter

A refusal letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name.

If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below your printed name. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.

Review and Revise Your Refusal Letter

Reviewing and revising the draft of your refusal letter is a final inspection, a last check to see whether your objective is clearly stated and your scope concisely defined. Put yourself in the reader's shoes and ask whether the details are accurate and complete.

Look for obvious errors. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes. Your complaint should be direct and to the point, so make sure that you have used a strong active voice.

Keep in mind the overall cohesiveness of your letter. Look for accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text.

Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches and trite language serve no real purpose and will obscure your objective.

If you have not written an opening or a closing now is the time. Lead into the refusal with an appreciative statement and a positively worded observation. Conclude with a gracious reiteration of your appreciation.

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Sample to decline an invitation to be a guest speaker. Rejection letters to event organizers. Guide, letter example, grammar checker, + letter samples.

letter refusing an invitation
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