Sometimes you will be invited to a function or event you don’t really want to go to. Other times you may want to go but can’t! Just how do you turn down such invitations in a polite way without causing offence or making the person inviting you unhappy? If you have a genuine excuse, the other person may offer an alternative which might be a good solution for both sides!

In this Podcast, you will learn:

(i) To decline an invitation to an event as you have other commitments

(ii) How to explain why you can’t go to a wedding party after being invited


A work colleague invites another to his wedding:


(zài gōng sī)

(at the company)


Xiǎo Wáng, wǒ shí yuè bàn hūn lǐ, zhè shì qǐng tiě, nǐ yī dìng yào lái ou!

Wang, my wedding banquet is in October, here is your invitation. You must come!


À, gōng xǐ gōng xǐ. Zhè qǐng tiě zhēn xǐ qìng! Yōu, shí yuè shí wǔ hào a. shí zài tài bào qiàn le, wǒ qù bù liǎo. Nà shí hou wǒ yīng gāi zài guó wài. Wǒ zǎo jiu dìng le chū guó lǚ yóu, jī piào yǐ jīng chū le.

Ah, congratulations! Wow, this will be such a joyful invitation. Oops…, October 15th, I am really sorry I can’t make it. I will be out of the country at that time. I made plans to travel abroad a long time ago and my air tickets are already paid for.


À, zhēn bù qiǎo. Nà zhǐ hǎo děng nǐ huí lái zán men yì qǐ chī gè fàn la.

Ah, that’s unfortunate. Then we need to go out to eat together after you come back.


Hǎo hǎo. Zài cì gōng xǐ nǐ a!

Great, can do! Congratulations once again!

Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:

办婚礼:hold a wedding banquet





去不了:can’t make it

那时候:at that time


在国外:out of the country

早就:a long time ago

出国旅游:travel abroad

出机票:refers to ‘买了机票’, purchased the air tickets

不巧:unfortunate (in this conversation it means ‘it is unfortunate that we can’t have you as a guest’)


Cultural/Grammar note:

Usually the traditional colour for wedding invitations is red, which is a joyful colour representing happiness.

In China, if you are invited to your colleague’s wedding, and if you don’t have any good excuse, you should go. Receiving a wedding invitation in China can present a headache sometimes, because you need to give a ‘红包’ (red envelope) (i.e. money as a gift), and you need to think about how much you should give. Lots of young people think ‘给红包真的很麻烦’, but it is a long-standing tradition, and nobody wants to break it.

Mandarin Chinese learning resources we recommend:

round-italki-logo-3d-01Using Italki, a unique system of learning Mandarin Chinese where you interact with real teachers, is widely recognised as an effective way to learn a new language! You’ll make more progress and learn how native Chinese speakers really speak. Plus, Italki is more affordable than offline tutors, offline schools and software, and is convenient to use at your own pace and place!


Keats Chinese SchoolKeats Chinese School, which was founded in 2004, is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China, offering both one-on-one immersion Mandarin courses and small group Chinese classes. Located in Kunming, Keats develops personalised exercises and materials for students to meet their learning goals and requirements and can arrange a student visa for its 16 week course.


Yes! I’d like to learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively

Narrated by Song Liu

Our Podcast narrator, is a native Chinese speaker and is originally from Beijing, China and is keen to help you get ahead with learning. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Master of Arts in Communication Studies. Song also hosted a Mandarin live call-in news and music radio show in the Bay Area.

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