The Business of English - Episode Two: Why don't you join us?
SAM: Look, we are having a small dinner for some of our clients and friends after this. Why don’t you join us?
VICTOR: That’s very kind of you. I’ll just check with my associate whether they have other arrangements for us.
SAM: Your associate is most welcome to join us too.
VICTOR: Thankyou – excuse me.
WALTER: This is Sam Eriks from Eriks imports. He has very kindly invited us to a dinner.
SAM: Yes, would you like to join us?
WALTER: Unfortunately I have another engagement, but thankyou for the invitation.
SAM: Well, perhaps you could join us after that for a drink?
WALTER: Sounds great. I’d be happy to. Where shall we meet?
SAM: How about the lounge bar here. At about ten?
WALTER: I’ll see you then. Excuse me…
SAM: Lin. Victor’s joining us for dinner.
LIN: Oh wonderful.
VICTOR: I hope you don’t mind.
LIN: Of course not, you’re most welcome.
SAM: Well, shall we make a move?
LIN: Would you mind if I just say goodbye to a few people?
SAM: No problem – we’ll see you outside in a few minutes.
Perhaps you could join us?
It would be great if you could join us.
Would you like to join us?
He says ‘ That’s very kind of you.’
When replying to an invitation, first thank the other person for the invitation, then give your answer. Here’s Victor with some different ways of doing this…
That’s very kind of you.
That sounds good.
And you can put them all together, like this…
That’s very kind of you.
Victor: No thanks.
Sam: Oh – right.
It’s rude just to say no without a reason, and the reason should be a good one. Look again.
Victor: No thanks, it doesn’t sound very interesting.
Sam would rightly be offended by that reply.
So what are some ways of making a polite excuse? Listen to Walter.
Unfortunately I have another engagement, but thankyou for the invitation.
I’m afraid I have another commitment.
I can’t I’m sorry. Perhaps another time?
By saying ‘Perhaps another time’, Walter is being polite and friendly, rather than just declining the invitation. Notice that he says ‘I can’t’. This implies that he has another commitment, without having to say what that commitment is. This is acceptable in business.
Sam and Walter make another arrangement. Watch how they do this.
That sounds great. I’d be happy to. Where shall we meet?
How about the lounge bar here. About ten?
I’ll see you then.
Sam says ‘Perhaps you could join us after that for a drink?’
By saying ‘perhaps’ he is leaving the invitation open. Walter is under no pressure to accept. Practise these phrases using ‘perhaps’ with Sam.
Perhaps you’d be interested in meeting us for breakfast?
Perhaps we could meet later in the week?
You’d is short for ‘you would’.
Walter accepts and they make the arrangement. Notice the slightly less formal way Walter accepts.
I’d love to.
I’d be happy to.
I’ll see you then.
By asking ‘Where shall we meet?’, Walter is leaving the details of the arrangement up to Sam. Sam gives a place and a time, but because this is an informal meeting, he doesn’t make it sound like an appointment.
He says ‘how about the lounge bar’?
‘How about’ invites the other person to say if it is not convenient.
And he says ‘At about ten?’ as a question. This also leaves room for the other person to suggest a different time. Practise these two phrases with Sam. Listen carefully to Sam’s voice, and whether he uses a rising or falling tone.
Walter confirms the arrangement by saying ‘I’ll see you then.’ This is now a definite commitment, and an end to the arrangement. Notice how the stress is on the word ‘then’ – to confirm that the time is definite. Try saying this : ‘Ill see you then.’
Let’s have a look now at the end of the scene. There are some more useful phrases…
I hope you don’t mind.
Of course not, you’re most welcome.
Sam: Well, shall we make a move?
Would you mind if I just say goodbye to a few people?
No problem – we’ll see you outside in a few minutes. Okay…
You’re most welcome.
When inviting someone informally, make it sound like a suggestion. That way, if someone can’t accept, they don’t feel so bad. ‘Why don’t you join us?’ instead of ‘I invite you to join us.’
And if you need to make an excuse, don’t just refuse an invitation – give a reason, and apologise. ‘I’m sorry, I have another commitment.’ When confirming details, use an upward inflection. ‘About ten.’ – sounds like an order. But ‘about ten?’ is asking whether it’s convenient for the other person.
That’s all for today on the Business of English. See you next time.