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Refusing an invitation

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Refusing an invitation
September 24, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 1 comment

However, sometimes you are forced to reject an invitation and there is no work around for this. This is why we have put together a list of scripts.

Remember that declining an invitation doesn't mean you're rejecting the person who sent it to you. It's simply a statement that you are unable to attend whatever you've been invited to.

How to Graciously Decline an Invitation

Here are some tips on how to turn down an invitation in the most polite way:

  1. Don't ignore the invitation. Putting the invitation aside to deal with later isn't good for you or the person who sent it. She needs to know whether or not you'll be there. Ignoring the invitation shows that you don't know proper etiquette , and you might be left off the guest list for her next party.
  2. Don't wait. As soon as you know you'll be unable to go, let the person know. Most events require planning and budgeting.
  3. Be thankful. Always sincerely thank the person for inviting you and let her know that you're honored that she'd think highly enough of you to send the invitation.
  4. Be honest. You don't ever have to come up with false excuses for why you're unable to go to the event, but you also don't have to go into detail. Let her know that you already have plans. That should be enough.
  5. Ask for a different time. If the invitation is exclusive to you, let the person know you're unable to make it at the time she requested, but you'd love to get together with her at another time.
  6. Don't over-explain. If you can't make it, keep your explanation short and to the point. Doing otherwise will make it sound like you're just trying to come up with excuses.
  7. Send something. If you would typically bring a gift to whatever event you were invited to, such as a birthday party or baby shower, go ahead and send something.

Proper Tone and Wording for Declining an Invitation

Sometimes you can state your response in person, by phone or a check mark on an RSVP note. However, there may be times when you need to write a note. The tone of your letter should reflect your relationship with the person who invited you. If it is a close personal friend, it will be much less formal than one for a business acquaintance.

Here are some examples of how you can decline in writing:

Dear Joan,

Thank you so much for inviting me to your birthday party. Unfortunately, I already have plans for that night, so I won't be able to attend. I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating this special occasion.


Your pal,



Dear George,

Congratulations on your new position! I wish I could attend your promotion party, but I'll be out of town that weekend. Maybe we can get together for drinks soon, and you can tell me all about your new job.

I wish you the very best.




Dear Harley,

Thank you for the invitation to your daughter's graduation party. I know how proud you are. If I could make it, I definitely would, but I've already booked my flight out of town to visit my parents. Please congratulate her for me and let her know I'll be there in spirit.

Your friend,



Dear Mr. Jones,

I received your invitation to your company's luncheon. I regret to inform you that I won't be able to attend due to another business commitment. Thank you for thinking of me.



Here's how to extend, accept, and refuse invitations in French, formally and informally. If you're invited, you can accept "avec plaisir" or "refuse.".

10 Useful Scripts to Politely Decline an Invitation

refusing an invitation

  • 1

    Understand why you were invited. Is your friend inviting you? Do you work in a small company, and your boss is inviting you to dinner? Are you expected to attend this invitation? What would the consequences be if you didn't attend?

  • 2

    Weigh the importance of this invitation. There are many social obligations we face throughout life, some more important than others. A social event that typically occurs once in a lifetime, such as a 'coming of age' party or someone's wedding, should have more importance over a night at the movies. How does this invitation rate compared with your existing obligations and priorities?

  • 3

    Thank the person. Someone is taking their time to invite you to some event they feel is worthwhile. Thank the person for their consideration.

  • 4

    Create a delay if needed. If you're confronted in person with a verbal invitation, respond with a request to check your schedule. This may be communicated within a question, as in "do you mind if I check my schedule and get back to you?", or a statement, "I really need to check my schedule before I commit to anything".

  • 5

    Be honest. To an extent, truthfully give the person a yes or no response. Sometimes a direct answer is desired, especially if the invitation is a social event with an RSVP. Many invitations will have a form on the card to select either yes or no. In this situation, it is not necessary to give an elaborated response. If you're unable or unwilling to attend, simply mark 'no' and thank the sender for his or her invitation.

  • 6

    Follow up with a positive conclusion. If applicable, let the person know you are interested in accepting the social event at a different time or under different circumstances. Showing interest softens the rejection of an offer.

  • 7

    Accept the first invitation or don't accept any if you received more than one for a particular night that would overlap or conflict.

  • 8

    Make an excuse. If things are going really badly, just say, 'I'm really sorry but,' and say something realistic and important and if they say ok, then just don't answer any calls at the time and stay away.

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    Polite Ways to Decline a Meeting Invitation

    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

    However, sometimes you are forced to reject an invitation and there is no work around for this. This is why we have put together a list of scripts.

    How To Decline A Wedding Invitation Politely, According To 9 People Who Have Done It

    refusing an invitation

    What do you do when you see the word “RSVP” on an invitation to an even that you do not want to attend or that you cannot attend due to your busy schedule? RSVP means “please respond,” so the inviting party is expecting an answer from you.

    We know it is hard to reject people, especially when you receive a wedding party, baby shower, farewell party, or funeral invitation. However, sometimes you are forced to reject an invitation and there is no work around for this.

    This is why we have put together a list of scripts that will help you reject almost any invitation courteously, respectfully, and diplomatically, yet concisely.

    These scripts are written in a way that will not offend the person making the invite – which is definitely something you want to avoid when you have to politely decline an invitation

    Tips on How to Politely Decline an Invitation

    Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind when you can’t attend an event and need to politely reject an invitation:


    1You must make up your mind and respond – always respond.


    2Remember that the answer you give will be taken as final, and it will be awkward to contradict your RSVP, especially if you included a reason when declining the invitation.


    3It’s important to be polite, courteous, and respectful when you reply.


    4Do not over-explain yourself. A short reason why you will not be able to go to the event is all that is necessary.


    5If you decline the invitation, do not make the mistake of going to the event unannounced. It is usually considered to be a rude gesture.


    6Do not feel guilty when you politely decline an invitation. You are not declining because you want the other person to feel bad; you are declining because you cannot attend the event.


    And remember, be concise, and do not leave any room for interpretation. You cannot attend the event because you have other plans or any other sound reason. It is your right to politely decline an invitation whenever you don’t want to go. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling guilty for not having to attend, so the last thing you should do is feel like a horrible person when you decline to attend an event.

    You may also like

    30 Effective Ways to Say No without Saying No


    10 best examples to politely decline an invitation

    01To decline a birthday party



    Dear Jane Doe,
    Thank you for thinking about me and inviting me to attend your birthday party. Unfortunately, I already have plans for that night, so I will be unable to attend the party. I know that day is very important to you, so I really hope it will be awesome.
    Warm regards,
    John Doe


    02To politely decline an invitation to a farewell party



    Hello Jane Doe, thank you for inviting me to John’s farewell party. Even though I admire and respect our colleague, I will unfortunately not be able to make it to the party due to unavoidable obligations. I hope you enjoy yourselves and have an excellent evening.


    03To decline a dinner party



    Thank you for inviting me to the dinner party, Jane. I would love to attend, but I am unsure I will be able to due to an appointment I have with my physician. I don’t think I will be able to cancel. However, know that I am with you in spirit. I hope the party will turn out to be the best one yet.


    04To decline a wedding party



    I am so honored to be invited to be a part of your big day, Jane. However, I will probably not be able to attend the wedding party due to plans I have already made for that day. Even though I will be with you only in spirit, I sincerely hope your wedding will be the greatest day of your life.


    05To decline a baby shower



    Hi, Jane. You won’t believe how happy I am to be invited to your baby shower. However, it saddens me to say that we will be out of town that day and will not be able to make it to the party. I know how much the baby shower means to you, so I honestly hope it will be a one of the happiest days in your lives.

    You may also like

    50 Best Examples of Sincere Thank You Notes to Boss


    06To decline a lunch invitation from colleagues



    Hi guys, I feel honored to be invited to this exciting lunch with all of you. Unfortunately, I have a previous engagement that I cannot postpone or cancel. I would have loved to go, but perhaps next time. You have a wonderful time and enjoy yourselves.


    07To decline a job offer due to salary



    Dear Sir,
    I want to thank you very much for offering me a position of [job title here] at your company, [company name here]. I feel honored that you have chosen me out of possibly dozens of other candidates. I was very impressed by the company and by your offer, which makes my decision even more difficult. After careful consideration, I must be honest with you and politely decline the job offer because the salary is lower than what I am looking for. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you and your colleagues. I sincerely wish you and your company the best of luck.
    Kind regards,
    John Doe


    08To politely decline an invitation to a date



    Hi John, thank you for the unexpected invitation to go out with you. Even though I find you to be a kind and interesting person, I have to decline your invitation due to the fact that I have other commitments. I hope my refusal will not offend you.


    09To decline a meeting invitation



    Hello guys, thank you for inviting me to attend tomorrow’s meeting. However, as I have a very urgent matter to attend to, I will not be able to make it in time. Don’t wait for me. I am very sorry I won’t be able to make it.


    10To politely decline an invitation to a funeral



    I am very sorry to hear about your recent loss. Jane was always the most pleasant and caring person I know. The world will never be the same without her. It is with great regret that I have to inform you that I will not be able to attend the memorial service because I am out of town on a business trip. Know that I will be thinking about you and your loved ones during this very difficult and trying time.


    If I want to politely and formally refuse an invitation for a dinner and write at the end that maybe next time I'll accept it, what should I write: Maybe.

    refusing an invitation
    Written by Gardarisar
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