More about invitations
(An example from British television)
When I watch television or a video, I sometimes
listen for interesting examples of everyday English, which I can
use in class.
A few days ago I was looking through some old notebooks and I
found a very short but interesting piece of dialogue. I wrote it down
last Christmas when I was in England. It comes from a British TV series
called Emmerdale Farm.
is a soap opera (*see note) which my mother watches every day. It is
daily lives of a group of people who live in a small village in the
Anyway, the dialogue is a very nice example of an everyday English
conversation. Speaker A invites Speaker B to a Christmas dinner,
but Speaker B politely says no.
Soap opera: a
television or radio story about the daily lives of the
same group of people, which is broadcast regularly. (Longman Advanced
Typical Japanese soap operas include programmes like Wakaba and Chura-san.
- I was wondering... are you doing anything
dinner tomorrow? Only you're welcome to come over to our place.
- Oh, that's kind of you, but I've got a
turkey in and my own weight in chocolate... and I was really looking
forward to being on my own.
- Oh, that's all right, then. You enjoy
Giving and rejecting invitations
GIVING SOMEONE AN INVITATION:
School textbooks often teach students to give invitations with phrases
- Would you like
to come over for dinner tomorrow?
- Why don't you
come over to dinner tomorrow?
These phrases are useful, of course, but please
notice the way Speaker A gives the invitation in the dialogue above:
- He starts with the phrase, I was wondering... This is a politeness phrase
which people often use before they give someone an invitation or ask
someone to do a favour.
- He then asks, Are you doing
anything for dinner tomorrow? Before making an invitation, it is
useful to check whether the other person is free to accept the
- He then gives the invitation, but
he does it in a very indirect way. He doesn't give the invitation with
a yes/no question form (Would you
like to come over for dinner? / How about coming over for dinner?),
but instead says, Only, you're
welcome to come over to our place.
REJECTING AN INVITATION:
One way Speaker B could have rejected the invitation could have been to
say, I'm sorry, but I'm busy
tomorrow evening. However, I think he would have sounded a
little cold. Let's have a look at what Speaker B does:
- He begins by expressing his
appreciation （感謝の気持ち）: Oh, that's kind of
- He then gives a reason why he can't
accept the invitation: (a) he already has a turkey and a lot of
chocolates at home, (b) he was looking forward to being on his own.
REACTING TO THE REJECTION:
Speaker B accepts the rejection: Oh, that's all
right, then. And preserves the harmony by saying something nice
to A: You
- begins with a politeness phrase;
- asks a question about whether
B is free;
- gives the invitation.
- begins by showing appreciation for
- gives a reason why he can't accept
- accepts the rejection;
- ends on a friendly note.
Some special language points
ARE YOU DOING
ANYTHING FOR DINNER
Notice the use of for in this
question. We often use for speacial occasions like these:
- What are you doing for Christmas?
- Are you doing anything special for New Year?
- What are you doing for dinner next Sunday?
What are you
doing for Christmas? means something like "What are you doing in
order to celebrate Christmas." What
are you doing for dinner? means something like "What plans have
you made for dinner?"
ONLY YOU'RE WELCOME TO COME
OVER TO OUR PLACE
This use of only
means something like, "The reason I'm asking this question is..."
Another example of this use of only was when my mother telephoned me
once and began the call like this:
Are you and Ari all right? Only I heard there's been a food-poisoning
scare in Japan." (i.e. The reason
I'm asking this question is because I heard...)
YOU'RE WELCOME TO COME OVER TO OUR PLACE
over is often used when we talk about visiting somebody's home
or office. Although Speaker B says come over to our
place, he could also have said simply You're welcome to
come over. We can also use come round (Would you like to come round for dinner?)
in a similar way.
I'VE GOT A TURKEY
IN AND MY OWN WEIGHT IN CHOCOLATES
got a turkey in means "I've bought a turkey and I have it at
weight in chocolates: Literally （文字通り） this means
（自分の重さの量のチョコレート）, but it's really an exaggerated way （大げさ）of saying "a
lot of chocolates."
THAT'S ALL RIGHT, THEN
can often mean そうして、but, in this case, where then is said at the
end of a sentence with a falling intonation, it means "in that case."
In Japanese, それでは is used in a similar way.
Further practice on invitations
There is no special exercise this week, but if
you want to learn more about giving, accepting and rejecting
invitations, please check these other one point lessons:
Saying "no" to invitations - the
Inviting on the telephone
You can often pick up a lot of useful language
from watching TV and video. Sometimes it is useful to pick a small
everyday scene like the one in today's lesson, try to write it down and
then have a look at the type of language people are using. If you have
DVD, it's even better because with many DVDs you can switch on the
English subtitles （英語の字幕）. Why not give it a try?
Remember that there are many more one-point lessons on this site.
Please click below if you
want to try some of them:
Bob's previous one-point lessons.
© Robert E. Jones, 2004