How to Accept and Decline Invitations in English

Dec 5, 2018 | English Conversation

Imagine a colleague invites you to their house for a weekend BBQ, your neighbor asks you over for dinner, or your friend from yoga asks invites you to her housewarming party.  Do you know to politely accept and decline invitations in English? Would you feel comfortable saying maybe?

It can be difficult to feel you are saying the right thing, especially when you have to say ‘no’ or ‘maybe.’

The good news is, with just a few easy steps you’ll be ready to accept and decline invitations politely and confidently in English. You’ll never have to worry about saying the right thing or finding the right words.

In this lesson, I share:

  • Three easy steps for accepting an invitation
  • What you shouldn’t forget to do if you say maybe
  • Four rules for saying no politely

Plus, you’ll get example phrases native speakers use when they accept and decline invitations.

After you review the lesson, be sure to check out my challenge questions below and get immediate practice.

Language for saying yes or no to an invitation in English.

Lesson by Annemarie

Accept and Decline Invitations in English Easily

How to Say Yes

STEP 1: Say Thank You

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks for the invitation.
  • That is so kind of you.
  • Thanks for thinking of us.
  • That sounds great.
  • How wonderful!
  • Awesome!
  • How fun!

STEP 2: Be Clear about Your Yes

  • We will be there.  (Make it clear who is coming so the host is sure, by saying for example: John and I will be there, OR  the kids and I will be there)
  • We can’t wait.
  • Count me in.
  • We will be there will bells on.*
  • Wouldn’t miss it!
  • Absolutely!
  • I’ll be there for sure.
  • I’d love to come.
  • I’m in/ I’m down/ Sure thing (Casual)**

* Learn more about where this expression comes from and how we use it.

** Last month, Kelly and I did a lesson on How to Make Plans with Friends with American vs. Australian English. In that lesson, we talked about using “I’m in” and “I’m down.”

STEP 3: Confirm the Details

  • So we will see you on the 10th then.
  • We look forward to seeing you there.
  • How lovely! I can’t wait.
  • It is going to be great!
  • What would you like us to bring?
  • Let me know if I can help with the preparations.
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Fabulous, see you then!


How to Say Maybe

STEP 1: Start with Thank You

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks for the invitation…
  • That is so kind of you.
  • Thanks for thinking of us.
  • That sounds great.
  • How wonderful!
  • Awesome!
  • How fun!

STEP 2: Use a Polite Way to Say Maybe*

  • I’m not sure whether I can but I’ll check my calendar and let you know.
  • Perhaps I can make it. Let me check my calendar.
  • Perhaps I can reschedule something. I will see what I can do.

* Get more ways to Say Yes, No, and Maybe with this lesson.

How to Say No

STEP 1: Start with Thank You

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks for the invitation but…
  • That is so kind of you.
  • Thanks for thinking of us.
  • I appreciate the invite but…

STEP 2: Explain You Cannot Go with an Apologetic Tone

  • But I am not able to make it.
  • But I am not able to come.
  • But I’m sorry, I’m afraid we can’t make it.
  • Unfortunately I already have plans.  
  • So sorry, I’ll have to take a rain check.
  • I would love to come but…
  • That sounds fabulous but…
  • I wish I could join you but…
  • I am so sorry we can’t make it…
  • It is a shame we can’t be there…
  • I am disappointed that I can’t make it…
  • That would have been wonderful, so sorry we can’t be there.

STEP 3: Give a Simple, Clear Reason

  • It is my sister’s birthday that day.
  • Joe leaves for his trip that afternoon.
  • The children have a school event we have to attend.
  • We will be away on vacation then.
  • We have a prior engagement.
  • We already have plans.
  • We have a clash in our schedule.

STEP 4: Close Positively

  • I hope it goes well.
  • We will be thinking of you.
  • Enjoy it!
  • We will make it up to you another day.
  • I would love to catch up another time.
  • How about another time?


After you’ve watched the video and reviewed the language we use to accept and decline invitations, it’s time for you to practice.

Review these 3 situations below and tell me how you would respond.

  1. Someone in your regular yoga class invites you to a housewarming party. You’d love to accept the invitation.
  2. A parent at your child’s school has invited you and some other parents over for coffee. You’d like to go but you’re not sure about your schedule. How would you politely say maybe?
  3. Your new to your neighborhood and one of your neighbors has invited you to their annual holiday party. Unfortunately, you’ll be out of town. What could you say?

The best place to share your answers with me is in the comments section at the bottom of this lesson. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to learn from and share with others in the Confident English Community.

~ Annemarie

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