English Usage Topics > Invitations

Invitations

There are several ways of inviting someone to do something or to come to a place.

Polite invitations

The usual polite way to invite someone to do something is to say `Would you like to...?'
Would you like to come up here on Sunday?
Would you like to look at it, Ian?
Another polite form of invitation is please with an imperative. This form of invitation is used mainly by people who are in charge of a situation.
Please help yourselves to another drink.
Sit down, please.

Informal invitations

In informal situations, you can use an imperative form without `please'. However, you should only do this if it is clear that you are giving an invitation rather than an order.
Come and have a drink, Max.
Sit down, sit down. I'll order tea.
Stay as long as you like.

Persuasive invitations

You can make your invitation more persuasive or firm by putting do in front of the imperative. You do this especially when the other person seems reluctant to do what you are inviting them to do.
Do sit down.
What you said just now about Seaford sounds intriguing. Do tell me more.
You can also say `Wouldn't you like to...?' when you want to be persuasive.
Wouldn't you like to come with me?
When you want to be very polite and persuasive, you can say `Won't you...?'
Won't you take off your coat?
Won't you sit down, Mary, and have a bite to eat?

Very emphatic invitations

If you know the person you are inviting well, and you want to make your invitation very emphatic, you can say `You must...', `You have to...' or `You've got to...'. You use this form of invitation when inviting someone to do something in the future, rather than immediately.
You must come and stay.
You have to come down to the office and see all the technology we have.

Casual invitations

A casual, non-emphatic way of inviting someone to do something is to say `You can...' or `You could...'. You can add `if you like'.
Well, when I get my flat, you can come and stay with me.
You can tell me about your project, if you like.
`You're welcome to...' is another way of starting a casual invitation, but is more friendly.
You're welcome to live with us for as long as you like.
The cottage is about fifty miles away. But you're very welcome to use it.
Another way of making an invitation seem casual is to say `I was wondering if...'.
I was wondering if you'd like to come over next weekend.
I was wondering if you're free for lunch.

Indirect invitations

An invitation can be indirect. For example, you can invite someone to do something in the future by saying `I hope you'll...'. You use this form of invitation especially when you are not confident that the other person will accept your invitation.
I hope you'll be able to stay the night. We'll gladly put you up.
I hope, Kathy, you'll come and see me again.
You can also invite someone indirectly using `How would you like to...?' or `Why don't you...?'
How would you like to come and work for me?
Why don't you come to the States with us in November?
You can also use a question beginning with `How about' followed by an -ing form or a noun.
Now, how about coming to stay with me, at my house?
How about some lunch?
You can also use a statement that begins with `You'll' and ends with the tag `won't you?' This implies that you are expecting the other person to accept.
You'll bring Angela up for the wedding, won't you?

Inviting someone to ask you for something

You can invite someone else to ask you for something by saying `Don't hesitate to...'. This form of invitation is polite and emphatic, and is usually used between people who do not know each other well. It is often used in formal or business correspondence.
Should you have any further problems, please do not hesitate to telephone.
When you want more, don't hesitate to ask me.

Responding to an invitation

If you want to accept an invitation, you say `Thank you' or, more informally, `Thanks'. You can also say something like `Yes, I'd love to' or `I'd like that very much'.
`You could come and stay with us for a few days.' – `Yes, I'd love to.'
`Won't you join me and the girls for lunch, Mr Jordache?' – `Thanks, Larsen. I'd like that very much.'
If you want to decline an invitation to visit someone or go somewhere with them, you can say something like `I'm sorry, I can't', `I'm afraid I'm busy then', or `I'd like to, but...'.
`I was wondering if you'd like to come round on Sunday.' – `I'm afraid I'm busy that day.'
`Would you like to stay for dinner?' – `I'd like to, but I have to get back home.'
You can also decline an invitation by saying `No, thanks', `Thanks, but...', or `I'm all right, thanks'.
`How about dinner?' – `Thanks, but I've eaten already.'
`Would you like to lie down?' – `No, I'm all right.'
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