Better Ways to Say Yes, No, Maybe, and I Can’t in English

May 22, 2024 | English Conversation

This lesson was originally published in September 2017.
It was updated with new content and a new video in May 2024.

Okay. Imagine this.

You’re at the grocery store. And you unexpectedly run into a friend you haven’t seen for a while. You have a little bit of chitchat there in the coffee/tea aisle while you’re picking up a few things and your friend says, “By the way, we’re having a few friends over Saturday night to grill out. You should come! And bring the kids. It’s been way too long since we’ve spent time together.”

And you would LOVE to say, “Yes, that sounds great.” But the truth is, you don’t know if your Saturday night is free. Your spouse proposed some tentative plans.

You could respond with, “Sure, maybe. I don’t know.”

But maybe sounds awkward, at best. At its worst, it sounds like you are not at all interested.

So is there a better way? 

 

Absolutely! 

In this video, we’ll dive into how to respond to requests, invitations, and other queries with better ways to say ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Maybe.’ Or even ‘I can’t.’ 

Whether it is an invitation to 

  • Plan a weekend away with your closest friends
  • Give a presentation at an upcoming event
  • Join a volunteer effort
  • Lead a project
  • Get dinner with the neighbors

It isn’t only a yes or no, a maybe or I can’t that you need to consider. It’s also the amount of enthusiasm or reluctance you might feel.

Better Ways to Say Yes in English

We have several ways to say yes in English for casual and professional situations. Here are some of the most common:

Casual:

  • Yeah, sure. Here you go.
  • No problem! I’m always happy to help.
  • Yep! I will be right there. (Yep is another informal way to say yes like yeah.)
  • Yeah, I’d be happy to!
  • Cool. (Yes, cool can really be used to say yes or to show agreement.)
  • You got it.
  • Okay.
  • Count me in! I’d love to come.
  • I’m in. Tell me what you need.

Professional:

  • Yes, of course. I will get it to you this afternoon.
  • I’d be glad/happy to make the reservations for you.
  • Absolutely. I will finish it this afternoon.
  • Certainly. I will call him now.
  • I’d love to help. Tell me what you need.

Polite Ways to Say No in English

Casual:

  • No, but thank you.
  • No thanks. It was delicious but I’ve already eaten too much.
  • Not now but another time. Maybe we can go on Saturday?
  • I’d like to but I have to work late this evening.
  • I wish I could but, unfortunately, I already have plans that night.
  • Nope. I don’t have time. Maybe tomorrow.
  • No way. (This is like saying, “No. There’s no chance I would ever do that!”)
  • I’ll pass. Maybe another time.

 

Professional:

  • I’m sorry but we won’t be able to make that compromise.
  • I would love to/like to but our company has a holiday party that night.
  • I’m afraid that I’m not available on Tuesday.
  • No, I’m sorry to say that we aren’t able to change the time of the meeting.
  • I wish I could but I’m unable to make that kind of compromise.
  • We appreciate the offer, however, this is not a good time for us.
  • I’m afraid I can’t meet you today. How about tomorrow?
  • I’m afraid not. I have a scheduling conflict.

Polite Ways to Say Maybe in English

  • Perhaps I can make it. Let me check my calendar.
  • I’m not sure whether I can but I’ll check my calendar and let you know.
  • Possibly. Let me review my schedule.
  • I’ll think about it. I’m not sure whether I have enough time to commit.
  • Let me see. I’ll review my calendar and get back to you.
  • I might be able to. I’ll let you know by Friday.
  • Can I get back to you? I need to check a few things to make sure I’m free.

Polite Ways to Say I Can’t in English

  • I can’t make it, unfortunately. I would love to join you but I’ll be away that weekend.
  • I’d love to but I can’t commit at this moment. I have too much on my plate.
  • I really can’t take on more right now. I’m sorry.
  • I wish I could, but I can’t. We are already committed that weekend.
  • I can’t this week but let’s check back next week/month. I’d love to find another time soon.

Now that you’ve completed the lesson, I’d love to hear from you!

What is one new word or expression you learned in today’s lesson? And how can you use it in your English life? Is it an expression you can use at work or with your English-speaking friends?

Tell me about it in the comments below.

~ Annemarie

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