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Vocabulary & Phrases
Whether for business, for pleasure or even in
hopes of a new romance, making plans is an
important part of everyday life.
Extending an invitation
Accepting with pleasure
Declining with apologies
Setting the time & place
Before making an official invitation, many people first express interest in an
appointment. For example, with a casual friend, you might say,
"We should really get together for coffee sometime."
On the other hand, if you want to talk business with someone, say,
"Let's do lunch sometime soon to discuss the contract."
Keep in mind that comments like these are sometimes just said out of
courtesy and do not mean you have made definite plans.
Extending an invitation
When you're ready to make some definite plans, it's time to extend an
invitation. Here, if you don't have any specific plans in mind, you may want to
make a vague invitation and decide the details together:
"What are you doing tonight? Do you want to have dinner together?"
Or, you can be very straightforward and specific:
"Would you be interested in coming over to my house for dinner tonight?"
“Are you free this Friday?”
“What are you doing this weekend?”
“Are you busy tonight?”
“Do you have time after class?”
Accepting with pleasure
If you'd like to accept an invitation that you've received, use one of these
"Sure. I’d love to." or
"That sounds great!"
If you've been invited to a large gathering, these are great responses:
"Great! I'll be there!" or
"You can count me in!"
“Sure! Do you want to do something?”
“I'm free all weekend.”
“I'm open this evening.”
“I don't have anything scheduled.”
Declining with apologies
It's not rude to decline an invitation, but you should always sound apologetic.
Use phrases like:
I'd love to, but I've got to... or
I wish you had asked earlier, but I already have plans to...
and follow up by describing your other commitment. If you don't wish to
explain why you can't make it, just say,
Sorry. I'm afraid I have other plans.
Sorry, I have plans this weekend.
I'm going to (Las Vegas) with (my friends).
Unfortunately not. I have something else scheduled.
Not really. (I'm kind of busy tonight.)
I'm not free on Friday, but I do have time Saturday.
I'm going to be out of town, but I'll be back next weekend.
I have something planned. How about tomorrow?
I'm busy today. How about some other time?
Setting the time & place
Perhaps you plan to meet someone, and all you need to do is settle on
where and when you will meet. To do this, simply suggest something:
How about 4:30 at your place? or
Will 5 p.m. work for you?
If, for example, your friend suggests you meet at 5 p.m., but you don't get
off work until 5:30, you can respond with
Can we make that 6?
Do you want to (wanna) go to a movie?
How about having dinner together?
There's a concert at the Galivan Center. Want to go?
Why don't we go bowling?
That would be fun / great.
When / where should we meet?
MAKING AN ARRANGEMENT
Alice: Hi Simon, it's Alice.
Simon: Hi there Alice. How are things?
Alice: Not too bad. Listen, there is a new film out with Russell Crowe. I've
heard it's really good. Would you like to go to the cinema to see it with me?
Simon: Sure, sounds great.
Alice: Shall we say Thursday evening?
Simon: I'm afraid, Thursday isn't good for me. I'm having dinner with my
family. It's my mother's birthday.
Alice: OK. Can you make it on Friday?
Simon: Err, yeah, Friday sounds fine.
Simon: What time do you want meet?
Alice: Well, they're showing the film at 8.30, so how about 8.15? In front of
Simon: Fine. See you on Friday.
Bill: What are you doing this weekend?
Jane: I'm not sure. What are you doing?
Bill: I was thinking of maybe taking a drive to the beach.
Jane: That sounds like a great idea!
Bill: Would you like to join me?
Jane: Sure, I would love to. When will we leave?
Bill: I thought around 6 tonight and then we will get there at about 8
pm. We can stay the night in a hostel and get to the beach early on
Jane: That would give us plenty of time to explore. Did you know that
there is a music festival on the beach this weekend?
Susan: Hello. Is Jim there please?
Susan: Hi, Jim. This is Susan. How are you doing these days?
Jim: Good. What's up?
Susan: Are you busy on Friday evening?
Jim: No, I'm free. Why?
Susan: Would you like to have dinner together?
Jim: Sounds good. What time would you like to meet?
Susan: How about 7:00?
Jim: 7:00 is fine. Where would you like to meet?
Susan: Why don't we meet in front of Antico's Italian Restaurant?
Jim: Sounds good. See you there.
Susan: Great. Bye.
Mary: Julio, we haven't gotten together in such a long time.
How long has it been?
Julio: It seems like ages. I've been incredibly busy. It's been at least
Mary: Let's get together some time soon. It's been way too long.
Julio: Absolutely, but when? When are you free?
Mary: I'm free during the day.
Julio: I work during the day.
Mary: How about after work!
Julio: After work I go to night school two nights a week. Unfortunately I can only find
time on Tuesday and Thursday, around 6. Will either of those days work for you?
Mary: Possibly. I have some flexibility and can try to work around your schedule.
Julio: Okay, good. Let me check my calendar. Hmmmm. I can't get together this coming
Tuesday, or the Tuesday after that. But I can get together the Tuesday after that.
Mary: Tuesday the 22nd, at 6 pm?
Julio: No, that's my wife's birthday. But Thursday the 24th works.
Mary: That works for me, too. In fact, Thursdays are generally better for me than
Tuesdays. Can your wife join us? That would be awesome. Let's call each other and
confirm that a few days beforehand. I'm going to pencil that in.
Julio : Yes! Me, too. I can't wait! Do you want to meet at Pete's? It has great coffee and a
great atmosphere. And we can hear each other speak.
Mary: Fine. I'm glad we were able to work something out. I'm looking forward to this.
And wish your wife a happy birthday!
Tom : It's almost Christmas. What are you doing this weekend?
Sara : Nothing special, just working. Why do you ask?
Well, I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping. Do you want
to go shopping with me this weekend?
I'd like to, but I'm not sure if I can. Work has been really busy
lately. Why don't we go on Friday instead?
Friday's not good. I think the stores will be very crowded and I
have to work.
OK, then let's try to go this weekend. I should know if I can go by
Friday. Is it OK if I call you then?
Tom : Yeah, that's fine.
Sara : What's your number?
233-331-8828. Let me give you my email address too. It's
Sara : OK, I'll talk to you soon.
Tom : OK.
A: What are you doing this weekend?
B: I am not sure. What are you doing?
A: I was thinking of maybe taking a drive to the beach.
B: That sounds like a great idea!
A: Would you be interested in joining me?
B: Sure, I would love to go with you. When would you be
A: I thought that we could leave around 8:00 on Saturday
B: That would give us plenty of time to explore. Did you know
that there is a music festival on the beach in Santa Barbara?
A: That was part of my plan.
B: Well then, I'll see you on Saturday. Thanks for asking me to
go with you.
Julie: “Hi Lisa, it’s Julie.”
Lisa: “Oh hi Julie, how’s it going?”
Julie:“Good! Hey, my roommates and I are thinking of seeing a movie this
weekend. Do you wanna come?”
Lisa:“Sure! When are you going?”
Julie:“Either Friday night or Saturday afternoon – which one works better for
Lisa:“I can’t on Saturday, ’cause I have band rehearsal for our concert that
Julie:“OK, we’ll do Friday then. Let’s meet outside the movie theater at 7:30.”
Lisa: “Sounds good! See you then.”
This conversation is an example of informal
Amanda: “Thank you for calling HiTech Company,
Amanda speaking. How can I help you?”
Lisa: “Hello, this is Lisa Greene. May I speak with
Peter Jackson, please?”
Amanda: “Please hold, and I’ll put you through
to his office.”
Amanda: “I’m sorry, it appears Mr. Jackson is not available at the moment. He
may have stepped out for lunch. Would you like to leave a message?”
Lisa:“Yes, could you ask him to call me back later? I don’t believe he has my
new office number – it’s 324-0506.”
Amanda: “Of course, Ms. Greene. I’ll make sure he gets the message.”
Lisa:“Thank you. Goodbye.”
This conversation is an example of formal telephone English.
Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen business, I will be unable to
keep our appointment for tomorrow afternoon.
Would it be possible to arrange another time later in the week?
I’m afraid that I have to cancel our meeting on Wednesday, as
something unexpected has come up.
You know we were going to meet next Friday? Well, I'm very sorry,
but something urgent has come up.
I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to meet you after all. Can
we fix another time?
Cancelling an appointment
You can cancel an appointment as follows
CANCELLING AN ARRANGEMENT
Alice: Hi Simon, it's Alice. Listen, I'm calling about Friday.
I'm afraid I can't make it. You see, my cousin is coming to
visit me for the weekend and I have to spend some time
Simon: Oh, that's a pity.
Alice: Can we do Sunday instead?
Simon: Sure, that suits me fine.
Simon: Same time, same place?
Alice: Yes. See you then. Bye.
A: I'm calling to cancel a reservation I made earlier in the
B: To cancel your reservation, I need your name, phone
number, and date of trip, please.
A: Rudy Randolph, 818-555-1234. My reservation begins
on the second Monday of April.
B: I see your reservation on my computer. Let me just
cancel it, and you'll be all set!
A: Thanks. I'll call again when things get better at home.
B: You're welcome.
A: I need to cancel my reservation. I have personal
matters that need fixing.
B: That's not a problem. Just give me your name,
phone number, and date of visit.
A: Rudy Randolph, 818-555-1234, April 9 through 15.
B: I see your info here on the screen. I'll hit just one
button, sir, and you're cancelled.
A: Thank you. I'm glad that wasn't too much of a
B: It's a pleasure.
A: I hate to do this, but I've got to cancel a reservation I
made earlier this week.
B: All I need is your name, phone, and reservation date.
A: My name is Rudy Randolph. I'm at 818-555-1234.
The reservation was for April 9.
B: Randolph, Rudy. Let me hit one button, sir, and now
your reservation is cancelled.
A: Thank you. I'll make another reservation as soon as I
B: It's been my pleasure to help you.