You are here

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



I'm Dai, I come from VietNam, and I have just register at Learning English.
I want to improve my English skill and I hope you help me.
Tks a lot!

Hello mrdaipc,

Welcome! I just wanted to say that you might want to look at our Getting started and Frequently asked questions page, where you can find advice on how to use the site and get started.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I only replayed twice, and it was good for me, I am use to listen more quickly. Thanks.

I listened it repeatedly. But couldn't catch what is the boy saying. It was talked really fast. I just want to know do the natives usually talk that much?

Hello dlis,

Yes, native speakers often do speak very quickly. But please don't be discouraged – not everyone speaks so fast, and understanding native speakers is often more difficult than understanding non-native speakers. In any case, you can see a transcription of what is said by pressing Transcript (between the exercises and the comments).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

why does he speak so fast ? I couldn't hear a thing

Hello englishnoob,

I'd suggest using the transcript on the lower part of the page to help you understand what is said. 

You might also want to consider trying some of our other videos such as Word on the Street, where people generally speak a bit less quickly.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is it also correct to say, I won't be able to attent because of a prior engagement instead of I'm unable to attend because I have a prior engagement?

Hello lingskie,

Yes, that's fine (with 'attend' rather than 'attent').

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I can not play the video. There is some connection error.