In the Production ecrite section of DELF A1 and DELF A2 you may be asked to write a letter accepting or declining an invitation. In this article we will be looking at how to write a message or letter in french declining an invitation.

This is part of our series Guide on the Production Ecrite of your DELF Exam.You might also find useful:

(1) Guide to writing a post card in french about your vacation

(2) Guide to filling out a form in French

(3) Guide to writing a letter accepting an invitation in french

(4) Guide to writing an invitation in french

How to write a message or letter in french declining an invitation

In general for your french exam an invitation is usually for, however not limited to, :

  • A wedding
  • dinner
  • vacation
  • to see a movie
  • A Christmas party
  • an office party
  • a party to celebrate an engagement
  • a retirement party
  • a party to celebrate the end of studies
  • a baby shower or the birth of a baby
  • a birthday party

In the DELF A1 You will be asked to write 40-50 words. While in the DELF A2 you will be asked to write 60-80 words.

When asked to write a letter or a message declining an invitation, no matter the type,  the structure is usually the same. The most important thing when refusing an invitation is to be always polite. Your refusal such never be too abrupt. Here are some basic steps to follow when refusing an invitation:


Before you start to write :

  • Read the instruction and ensure it is a letter requesting that you accept an invitation
  • Determine to what you have been invited
  • Who invited you (since they might be multiple names in the letter or message)
  • Determine if it is a friendly invitation or a professional invitation

When you are writing in french:

  • Use the right opening greetings, depending on the type of invitation
  • Thank the person for the invitation
  • Give a positive conclusion
  • Use the closing for your letter or message based on the type of invitation

For the greeting for a professional letter in french use:

Cher Monsieur ……………………….,
Chère Madam…………………………..,

For the greeting for a friendly letter in french, use:


To say you are sorry you can use the following french expressions:

Je suis vraiment désolé(e), mais
Je regrette, mais
Désole(e), mais
Merci, mais

These are usually followed by french expressions such as:

Je suis pris (e)
Je ne suis pas libre
Je ne peux pas
Je me vois malheureusement obligé de refuser.
J’ai quelque chose de prévu.
J’ai du travail
Ce n’est pas possible

e.g. Je suis vraiment désolé(e), mais Je ne suis pas libre.

To close a professional letter in french:

Bien cordialement.
Cordialement vôtre.
Bien sincèrement.
Sincèrement vôtre.
Sincères salutations.

To close a friendly letter in french:

Bien a toi
Bien a vous
Je t’embrasse

Check out this short video that will give the pronunciation of some of these expressions.

Sample letter declining an invitation in french

Salut Alex,

Merci de ton invitation que je viens de recevoir. Je pars en vacances à Nice la semaine prochain et malheureusement je serai absent le 25 Aout. Je le regrette beaucoup car j’aurais aime fêter tes 32 ans avec toi.

Je penserai à toi ce jour.

Ton ami,


(word count = 50)