#306: Friendly Ways to Invite Someone in English

Mar 13, 2024 | English Conversation

This lesson has been updated with new content and a video lesson; it was originally published in February 2019.

Want to grab coffee with that new friend from the gym? 

Or ask a colleague to join you for lunch, but not sure how to invite someone in English?

Whether you are living in a new city or country or whether you just want to get out more and get to know more people where you live, making an invitation is the door to an active social life and potential new friendships.

Inviting an acquaintance, colleague or neighbor to do something can be a great step forward in getting to know them better and building a friendship.

But taking that first step to extend an invitation can cause anxiety.

It’s already a bit nerve-wracking to invite someone to lunch or coffee for the first time if, for example, you’re hoping to get to know a coworker. Or develop a friendship.

It’s all the more challenging if you’re unsure of the language, tone, and level of formality to use.

That’s why we’re diving into the art of making invitations in English—a skill that’s not just about language but also about connection, culture, and the right touch of personal warmth.

Whether it’s inviting a new friend for coffee, proposing a meeting at work, or organizing a casual get-together, the words you choose and the tone you use can make all the difference.

In this video, we’ll explore how to use English to extend invitations with confidence. From the phrases that strike the perfect balance between formality and informality to understanding the cultural nuances that make your invitations feel genuine and welcoming. 

So, if you’ve ever hesitated before saying, ‘Would you like to…?’ then you’re in the right place.

WATCH THE LESSON

Friendly Ways to Invite Someone in English

The Process of Extending an Invitation:

There are two ways to extend an invitation to someone:

Option 1: Ask a question and include the event/activity.

  • Ex. Are you free for lunch after today’s meeting? I’d love to chat if you have time.

Option 2: Introduce the activity/event and say what you need/want. 

  • Ex. I’m having a party this weekend. I’d love it if you could come. 

Common Phrases

Before we dive into a few scenarios, let’s review some common phrases you might use with different people including more formal relationships with professional peers to very casual connections with someone you know well.

Professional/Formal Phrases

The following phrases are highly professional and formal. In English speaking culture, the more formal the language, the more distant the relationship. 

This is language you might use in diplomatic situations, formal social events (weddings, galas, etc.), high-level corporate activities, etc.

I would like to invite you to…

• I would like to formally invite you to our company’s annual retreat.

I’m pleased to invite you to…

• I’m pleased to invite you to the winter gala. 

I/We invite you to attend…

• We invite you to attend the town meeting. 

I am looking forward to joining you…

• I am looking forward to joining you in our company’s upcoming strategy meeting. 

Neutral Phrases

Neutral phrases are excellent for polite but warm invitations. 

Consider using these phrases for someone you don’t know well but would like to know better. 

For example, if you aiming to develop a strong relationship with a client, get to know a coworker, or extend an invitation to a new neighbor.

I was wondering if…

• I was wondering if you have time for a quick chat before the meeting.

Would you like to…?

• Would you like to join us at the next luncheon?

I’d love it if you can come to…

• I’d love it if you can come to my son’s fifth birthday party. 

I hope you can join me/us…

• I hope you can join us in celebrating Janice’s retirement. 

I’d love it if you could join me/us…

• I’d love it if you could join me for a yoga class this Wednesday. 

Casual Phrases

And finally, casual phrases are warm and friendly — perfect for those you already have a friendly relationship with or those you are close to.

Note: a friendly relationship doesn’t mean you’re close friends, but rather you’ve encountered each other a few times and have enjoyed polite, friendly conversations. 

Are you doing anything…?

• Are you doing anything after today’s meeting?

Do you want to…?

• Do you want to grab coffee during the break?

Do you feel like…?

• Do you feel like going out for dinner tonight?

Are you free to…?

• Are you free to hang out this Friday?

We should check out…

• We should check out the new art exhibit next week!

Any interest in…?

• Any interest in going to a summer concert?

How about…?

• How about going to the festival together on Saturday?

Common Scenarios for Professional, Social, and Casual Situations

 

Category #1: Professional Settings

When speaking to a new manager, a professional acquaintance, a client, or someone you just met at a conference, consider how well you truly know them. 

If you don’t know them beyond conversations about work, your field, or your project, it’s best to use professional or formal language. 

Here’s how you might do that. 

Scenario #1: Perhaps you want to invite an acquaintance to join you for a seminar. You could say:

There’s an interesting seminar on the advantages of VR for work. I was wondering if you’d like to join me.

  • “I was wondering if” is a phrase English speakers often use to make an indirect request or invitation. It is more polite than usual and, in this case, formally extends an invitation for an activity of interest. 

Note: For a more direct/assertive invitation, you could use “Would you like to join me?”

Scenario #2: Imagine you want to invite your new client to talk about a project over a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe. In this instance, you could say:

Would you like to meet at The Marble Cafe next to the office and talk about the interior design options? 

Scenario #3: Maybe you’d like to go over the details of an upcoming event with your coworker. If you haven’t worked with each other before and don’t know each other well, you could say:

I wou;d like to invite you to join Wednesday’s planning meeting to discuss possible last-minute changes to the project. 

As you may have noticed, this invitation is quite formal. The language appropriately reflects the nature of the relationship and maintains professionalism. Unlike the first example, the goal in workplace communications is to be crystal clear.

 

Category #2: Social/Semi-Casual Settings

When you’ve just met a new neighbor, a parent at your child’s soccer practice, or a friend of a friend’s, you may feel unsure as to how informally to address them. 

When in doubt, opt for neutral language. 

Scenario #4: Imagine a new neighbor moved in and you’re throwing a BBQ party. After some conversation, you might say:

By the way, we’re having a BBQ on Sunday. We’d love it if you could join us. 

  • This invitation has two important phrases:
    By the way and We’d love it if

    English speakers use ‘by the way’ to extend last-minute invitations. Using this phrase makes an invitation a side note, or afterthought, which takes away the pressure to accept the invitation. Should your neighbor not feel comfortable yet or simply have other plans, he/she can decline without guilt.

Scenario #5: Perhaps you’ve met a friend’s friend at a party and discovered that you both enjoy playing tennis after work. If you want to play tennis with them, you could ask:

Do you want to play tennis together in the next week or so? I usually play after work. 

  • This invitation specifically uses the vague words ‘in the next week or so’ to relieve the pressure of needing to set a date and time in that moment. Also, since the invitation is extended to someone you’ve just met in a casual place, the language is neither too casual nor too formal.

Scenario #6: Maybe you see an old colleague who you haven’t spoken to in a few years. You remember they love reading and decide to invite them to your book club. You could say:

I’m part of a fantastic book club and we have a meeting coming up. I’d love to have you join us if you’re interested and available! 

  • Like the previous example, ‘if you’re interested and available’ is used to decrease or relieve any possible pressure to accept. Though you may know the colleague, you may not be sure whether they would truly be interested. So, creating a connection with their interests and extending a guilt-free invitation semi-formal invitation works best in this scenario. 

 

Category #3: Casual Settings

Finally, when you’re inviting someone you know well, like a close friend, a close coworker, or a family member — or you’re inviting someone with whom you’ve had several friendly conversations — casual language is appropriate to use.

Note: Casual invitations are often direct and obvious. Rather than a suggestion, someone usually tells you to set aside time for the activity if you can. 

Scenario #7: Maybe you and your best friend haven’t seen each other in a long time. To schedule a date with her, you might say:

Hey, I’m going to be in the area this Friday. Let’s grab lunch together.

Scenario #8: Imagine you and your work friend have had a long week. To blow off some steam together, you might say:

Are you doing anything after work today? Maybe we can do karaoke?

After you’ve watched the video and reviewed the lesson, it’s time to practice!

Using the tips, styles, and phrases you learned in today’s lesson, tell me how you’d extend an invitation for the scenario and people below.

You’d like to ask this person to chat over a cup of coffee. 

  1. A parent you recently met at your child’s school.
  2. A close friend from high school. 
  3. A professional you met during this year’s networking event.

You can share with me in the comment section below.

~ Annemarie

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