Practical English Speaking: Phrases for Invitations

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Everyday English Speaking Course

Today we’re going to learn some very practical phrases that native English speakers use for making invitations and responding to them, whether you want to accept the invitation (say yes) or decline the invitation (say no).

When you know the phrases that native English speakers use, then you can use them confidently without worrying if your English sounds strange or wrong. That’s why I created the Everyday English Speaking Courses – to help you learn real phrases and expressions for daily life.

Click on the link for more information and to join those courses. There are actually two levels – Level 1 focuses on more practical English for everyday situations, and Level 2 focuses on more advanced expressions used in conversation.

How to make invitations in English

OK, first let’s learn how to make an invitation – how to invite someone to do something with you. We can start by asking the other person about their availability, using the phrases:

  • Are you doing anything… [this weekend]?
  • Are you busy… [on Friday]?
  • Are you free… [tomorrow afternoon]?

When speaking fast, notice that we don’t say “are you” – it sounds more like “areya?”

If you ask one of the first two, and the person says “no,” that means they’re available, because they have no other plans.

If you ask the last one, then the person saying “yes” would mean they’re available.

Then you can make your invitation using one of these phrases:

  • Would you like to…? – for a more formal invitation
  • Would you like to join me for lunch?
  • Would you like to see a movie tomorrow night?

Again, notice that we don’t pronounce each word distinctly – “would you like to” – instead, it sounds like wudja liketa.

  • Want to…? / Do you want to…? – more informal. When speaking fast, these sound like Wanna…? / D’ya wanna…?
  • Wanna go hiking on Saturday?
  • D’ya wanna grab a coffee after class?

Saying “yes” to an invitation in English

Now let’s learn some phrases for responding to an invitation.

To say “yes,” you could use one of these phrases:

  • I’d love to!
  • Sure!
  • Sounds good! / Sounds great!

Saying “no” to an invitation in English

If you want to say “no,” you could say:

  • I’d love to, but… (I have other plans.)
  • I don’t think I can.
  • I’m really sorry, but… (I have to pick up my kids from school.)
  • Wish I could make it, but… (I’ve got another commitment that day)
    (saying “wish I could make it” means “I wish I could come”)

What if you’re not sure whether or not you can accept?

Here are a couple phrases for that:

  • Let me check my calendar.
  • Can I get back to you on that? I’ve gotta check with my husband/wife/parents.
    (to “get back to someone” means to give them an answer later)

If you want to say no, but express the hope that the person will invite you again in the future, you can say:

  • I’ll have to take a raincheck.
  • Maybe another time.

OK? Now that you know some natural-sounding phrases for making invitations and responding to them, you don’t have to feel nervous or awkward about speaking English in this situation. When you join my Everyday English Speaking Courses, you’ll be even better equipped for many different situations – from shopping to traveling to socializing and more.

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