Are you trying to figure out a good way to tell someone you can’t attend an event?
Maybe you’re worried that “I can’t make it” is rude or informal.
Well, that’s not your only option!
Luckily, this article will show you what to say instead of “I can’t make it” to keep your writing polite and professional.
You might want to use the following synonyms to help you sound more sincere:
- I won’t be able to attend
- I’m unable to come
- I’m afraid I won’t be there
- I won’t be able to make it
- I’m not able to come along
- I’ve already made plans
- I can’t get there
- I’ve got a conflicting engagement
- I’m not able to attend as planned
- I won’t be coming
Keep reading to learn how to politely say “I can’t make it.” We’ve explained more about each of the synonyms above and touched on different contexts that might apply when using them!
If you’re wondering how to say “I can’t make it” professionally, try “I won’t be able to attend.”
This is a great chance to show you can’t make it to a meeting or event planned in the workplace.
Generally, you should use this when emailing your boss. It’s an honest and formal way to let them know that you’ve got something else planned.
It works best when replying to your boss’s email about your attendance. If you’re not able to attend, it’s good to be upfront and clear with them. They might then be able to rearrange things.
Check out this email sample if you still need help understanding it:
Dear Ms. Murphy,
I won’t be able to attend the meeting at the specified time.
Do you have any other time slots that might work better?
Thanks so much,
Feel free to write “I’m unable to come” to show you can’t make it to a party. You might use this when responding to a friend’s invitation.
After all, there are plenty of external sources that might prevent us from taking part in something. Most of the time, those things are outside of our control.
Whatever the case, this phrase is respectful and honest. It shows you aren’t able to attend an event, even though you know that might let your friend down.
Here’s a helpful response sample to show you how it might work:
I’m unable to come to your party, I’m afraid!
It’s such a shame because I really would have loved to attend.
All the best,
Try using “I’m afraid I won’t be there” as another way to say “I can’t make it.” It’s an honest and formal way to show that you’re not going to attend an event or meeting.
For instance, you might use this when replying to a client. They might have reached out to ask if you’ll attend a meeting with them.
However, if your boss has already decided someone else will attend, or you simply don’t have the time, this phrase works well.
It’s respectful, so it shouldn’t upset the client! That’s the main thing, after all.
Also, this email sample will help you to see it in action:
Dear Ms. White,
I’m afraid I won’t be there, as I have other obligations.
However, you’ll be in very good hands with my colleague, Jon Barker.
All the best,
Feel free to use “I won’t be able to make it” if you can’t make it to work for one reason or another.
For instance, let’s say there’s an unexpected and dangerous weather forecast. Your boss might already be aware of it, but it’s made it impossible for you to get to work.
Well, you can use this phrase to be honest and respectful when sharing bad news.
It’s professional and shows you simply can’t find a safe and effective way to make it into work.
Feel free to review this email example if you still don’t get it:
Dear Ms. Dean,
I won’t be able to make it because of the changing weather!
I’m afraid it’s simply not safe enough for me to drive on these roads.
It’s also good to mix things up with “I’m not able to come along.” This could be a great way to show someone you’re not going to attend something.
Of course, this one is a bit more friendly.
Therefore, it’s worth using this when rejecting a birthday party invitation from someone. You might want to include something like this in a reply to show that you’re sad you can’t make it.
Also, you can review this response sample to learn a bit more:
I’m not able to come along to your birthday party.
I hope you still have a wonderful time without me there, though.
Sometimes, we make plans before people have asked us about another event. Therefore, you can say “I’ve already made plans” instead of “I can’t make it.”
That way, you aren’t directly refusing to attend something.
Instead, you’re saying that you booked something else into your diary first. So, you are going to follow your original plan and stick to whatever came first.
This is honest and respectful. It shows that you’ve considered the new invitation, but you’re unable to fit it in without removing your previous plan.
Check out the following email sample if you still need help with it:
I’ve already made plans for that day!
It’s such a shame because I would have enjoyed coming to your dinner party.
All the best,
There are plenty of reasons why we might not want to attend something. Not being able to get somewhere is one such example!
You can say “I can’t get there” as an honest and friendly way to show that you can’t attend something.
It’s a direct way to let someone know that you wish you could attend, but it just isn’t feasible.
For the most part, the recipient will understand. It works best when replying to a friend who understands you, though.
Here’s a helpful example to show you a bit more:
I can’t get there, so I’m not going to be able to come.
Thank you so much for inviting me in the first place, though.
You might also want to be honest and say “I’ve got a conflicting engagement” instead of “I can’t make it.”
After all, something more important might already be penciled into your diary. You can’t help that!
This synonym is still professional, too. So, you can use it when contacting your employer to let them know why you might not be able to attend an important meeting.
Also, check out this sample email to learn a bit more:
Dear Mrs. Prescott,
I’ve got a conflicting engagement, so I can’t attend that meeting.
Please let me know if anything important comes up during it, though.
All the best,
It’s also good to write “I’m not able to attend as planned.” This could be a good choice if you originally agreed to something but have since encountered an issue preventing you from going.
After all, the synonym is direct and respectful. So, it’s a good way for you to show someone that you’ve done all you can, but you simply can’t find a way to attend.
Try using it when going back on plans with your boss. It might not be the most ideal situation, but it’s best to be honest in these situations to avoid getting into too much trouble.
You can review this email example if you still need help with it:
Finally, we recommend using “I won’t be coming” to be direct and clear. After all, you can’t get clearer than this when rejecting an invitation to something.
“I can’t make it” shows that you’ve considered your options, but you can’t find a way to get somewhere.
“I won’t be coming” instead shows you do not want to attend or don’t think it makes sense for you to go.
Of course, this is a bit harsher than the other synonyms. However, you can use it when rejecting a dinner party invitation from an employee.
If you don’t think it would be wise for you to attend, that’s fair enough! Just communicate that clearly and try not to hurt their feelings.
Here’s a helpful example to finish things off:
I won’t be coming, but I appreciate the offer.
Maybe you can think of me again if you host a smaller event.
All the best,
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.