How to Extend (or Decline) an Invitation in French

If you're invited, you can accept 'avec plaisir' or 'refuse'

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Origami Heart Wedding Invitation from Minted. Minted

There are a number of different ways to extend, accept, and refuse invitations in French, with a tone that is either formal or informal. 

The verb choice, word choice, and sentence structure all play a big part in how invitations and responses are expressed.

Role of Verb Tense and Mood, Person, Tone, and Structure

Formal: In more formal invitations and responses, the speakers seek the highest standards of politeness and so choose sentences using the very polite conditional mood in the main clause.

What's more, the polite vous of the main verb is preferred, and the language is more elevated throughout. Sentences also tend to be more complex in more formal communications.

Informal: In informal invitations and responses, the simple present tense in any part of the sentence or phrase is adequate to convey the intended message, meaning, and casual mood.

What's more, the main verb uses the informal tu form, and the language is light and often breezy. Sentences or phrases tend to be short and to the point.

Extending an Invitation

In the phrases that follow, the blank ___ must be filled with an infinitive in French. In English, however, you'd add either an infinitive or a gerund—depending on the verb that precedes it.

Again, notice the difference in sentence structure for formal versus informal invitations and responses.

  • Vous nous feriez très plaisir si vous pouviez nous consacrer une soirée. (formal) > We would be delighted if you could spend an evening with us.
  • Nous serions très heureux de vous accueillir chez nous. (formal)We would be very happy to welcome you to our home.
  • Je vous invite à ___ (formal) / Je t'invite à ___ (informal) > I invite you to ___
  • Êtes-vous libre ? (formal) / Tu es libre ? (informal) > Are you free?
  • Avez-vous envie de ___ (formal) Do you want to ___?
  • Tu as envie de ___ ? (formal) > Do you feel like ___?
  • Ça te dit de ___ ? (informal) How does ___ sound?
  • Et si on (mange, voit un film) ? (informal) > How about (eating, seeing a movie)?
  • Venez donc ___ (formal) / Viens donc ___ > Come and ___
  • Réponse souhaitée
  • RSVP  (Répondez s'il vous plaît)

Accepting an Invitation 

  • Bonne idée ! (informal) > Good idea!
  • Ça va être génial ! (informal) > That'll be cool!
  • Ça va être sympa ! (informal) > That'll be nice!
  • Cela me ferait grand plaisir. > I would be delighted.
  • C'est gentil (de votre part). > That's kind (of you).
  • D'accord. > OK.
  • J'accepte avec plaisir. > I accept with pleasure. / I'll be happy to come.
  • Je viendrai avec plaisir. > I will be glad to come.
  • Je vous remercie. > I thank you. / Thank you.
  • Oui, je suis libre. > Yes, I'm free.

Declining an Invitation

  • Je me vois malheureusement obligé de refuser. (formal) > Unfortunately, I'm obliged to decline.
  • C'est dommage, mais ___ > It's too bad, but ___
  • C'est gentil, mais ___ > That's kind, but ___
  • Désolé, mais ___ > I'm sorry, but ___
  • J'ai quelque chose de prévu. > I have something planned.
  • Je ne peux pas. > I can't.
  • Je ne peux pas me libérer. > I'm unavoidably busyJe ne suis pas libre. >  I'm not free
  • Je suis occupé. > I'm busy.
  • Je suis pris. > I'm otherwise engaged.

Invitation-Related Verbs

  • accepter (avec plaisir) > to accept (gladly, with pleasure) 
  • accueillir > to welcome
  • inviter > to invite
  • une invitation > invitation
  • refuser > to decline
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ThoughtCo. "How to Extend (or Decline) an Invitation in French." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, thoughtco.com/invitations-french-expressions-1368683. ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). How to Extend (or Decline) an Invitation in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/invitations-french-expressions-1368683 ThoughtCo. "How to Extend (or Decline) an Invitation in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/invitations-french-expressions-1368683 (accessed April 21, 2018).