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How to turn down an invitation

Learn how to say 'no' to a formal invitation.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the task. You can read the transcript at any time.


Man: Oh no!

Woman: What is it?

Man: 'Josh and Henrietta would like to have the pleasure of your company at a drinks party next Saturday evening ...'

Woman: Oh no, Josh and Henrietta ... they're not that couple who ...?

Man: Yeah, exactly! And it gets worse!

Woman: How?

Man: 'Formal dress'.

Woman: Argh ... It means you've got to wear a suit.

Man: At the bottom it says 'RSVP'. What does it mean?

Woman: You've got to reply.

Man: But I don't want to go, so what can I say?

Woman: Tell them you've got a dentist's appointment.

Man: Josh is my dentist!

Woman: Tell them it's your grandmother's 100th birthday party.

Man: But they know my granny died ages ago.

Woman: Tell them your dog's sick and you've got to take him to see the vet.

Man: It's no use. I'm just going to have to tell them the truth.

Woman: The truth? 'I'm not coming to your birthday party because I think you're boring and stupid?'

Man: Maybe not, then.

Woman: Tell them this: 'I'm unable to attend because I have a prior engagement.'

Man: 'Prior engagement'?! And … they won't be offended?

Woman: Absolutely not.

Man: Perfect!



Language level

Intermediate: B1


Yes. I can.

If I want to turn down an invitation, I always trying to find an acceptable lie to say no, because if I honstly say I don't want to come people will be upset. I might say I am sick, or say I have prior engagment , I may say I have a guest or I already invited to another party.

Dear learningEnglish team,
I have grammatical question, what is the meaning of “ you’ve got to wear ...” or “ you’ve got to take him ... “. I have no idea about the “got” in the sentences.
Many thanks

Hello elnaz

In these phrases, 'have got to' is another way of saying 'have to', with the idea of obligation.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I have got a question. I’m a little bit confused with the grammatical aspect of this phrase “I’m just going to have to tell them the truth...”. What’s the difference between “I’m going to have to tell..” and “I have to tell..”
I would be very grateful if someone could help me. Many thanks in advance.

Hello Rinchik,

The phrase 'I'm just going to...' tells us that the speaker can avoid something at the moment but will have no choice at some point in the future or if they wish to achieve some other goal:

I'm going to have to tell them the truth (when they ask/when I get there)

I'm going to have to tell them the truth (if I want them to help me)


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, it's very useful information. I sometimes cannot reject their invitation so what should I say it politely. I don't want to make them dissapointed.

First of all accept my greetings, Secondly, i would like to thank you for this useful lesson.
My question is what does it mean (Josh and Henrietta would like to have the pleasure of your company at a drinks party, next Saturday evening)? I guess this invitation is birthday invitation, am I right?.
Best regards,

Hello Mohamed,

Yes, this is an invitation, but to a drinks party. The drinks party could be a birthday party as well, but that isn't clear from just this sentence. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Very useful, indeed. It is sometimes difficult to say no, specially in cultures like mine.