How to Politely Say That You Are Not Available

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Have you ever asked someone in English if they are available to talk to you or do something for you? Or have you ever been asked the same? If your answer was negative, did you find it difficult to say NO without offending the person who asked about your availability?

In this post, let’s try to find all the answers, especially how to say that you are not available politely.

To politely inform someone that you are not available, you can say, “I’m sorry, I’ll not be available at that time as I’ll be busy with…” You can also say, “I wish I could be available then,” or “It would be my pleasure to match the schedule, but I am afraid. I’ll be busy then.” Whenever you say “NO” to anybody, be sure that you show reasons and remain polite.

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Table of Contents

Different Ways to Say That You Are Not Available

  1. I’m sorry, I can’t be available then. I will be in class.
  2. I am afraid I’ll not be available at that time. I’ll be at work.
  3. Please pardon my unavailability. Due to office work, I can’t attend the party.
  4. I wish I could be available tomorrow at your birthday party. But, unfortunately, I have a flight to catch today.
  5. It would be my pleasure to be available this afternoon. But I have to attend a meeting.
  6. I am in between something. Sorry for being unavailable to help you with this.
  7. I would be happy to stay for some more time. But I have to leave to attend to the guests at my place.
  8. I am sorry that my schedule is not open on Tuesday. I will be busy for the whole week with my new project.
  9. I am afraid that the date doesn’t fit into my schedule. Would you please reschedule?
  10. I have a lot of customers to attend today. Therefore, I am sorry that I cannot make it this evening.
  11. I am too much busy clearing the pending accounts. It’s my apology that I can’t help you right now.
  12. I have to check some scripts after the class. So I can’t go for a coffee. I hope you don’t mind.
  13. Oh no! It’s not a good time for me to watch cricket with you. I have a lot of pending files to work on.
  14. If I had no office today, I could go with you to the airport. I hope you understand.
  15. I am up to fixing the hardware problems. But, again, I am sorry for not being available to help you with the software issues.
  16.  I am afraid the decided conference day doesn’t fit into my schedule.
  17. May I request you reschedule the client meeting? Unfortunately, I am too busy today.
  18. Would it be a problem if I am not available at the venue? Unfortunately, I think I can’t make it due to my business.
  19. Can you please excuse my presence? Unfortunately, I will not be available for the next few days.
  20. It’s my bad! I am unable to spare some time for you today.
  21. I am terribly sorry for my unavailability. Unfortunately, I have to move to for hometown tonight. I will be available by next Sunday.
  22. May I ask you to come the day after tomorrow? Unfortunately, I will not be available at my office tomorrow.  
  23. I beg your pardon for not being able to be available in your scheduled slot.
  24. Will you please meet me tomorrow? I’ll be busy for the whole day today.
  25. Since I have some engagements today, I’ll try my best to visit your store tomorrow. Please excuse my unavailability.
  26. Sadly, I have some other engagements. So please forgive me for not being able to come.
  27. I am sorry because I have another commitment. So I can’t perform at your event this Thursday night.
  28. I am really honored by your offer to join your party tonight. But I am sorry for not being able to fit this in.
  29. Thanks for thinking of me as the chief guest. But unfortunately, I have already given this date for another program.
  30. If I did have other plans, I would undoubtedly have joined you.  
  31. I appreciate your plan. But I can’t go on an international tour this year because of my unstable health.
  32. I will not be able to make it this time. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  33. I would be delighted to perform if I were not already booked for another event.
  34. I am terribly sorry for being unavailable this year for the Alumni program. I will surely join the coming years.
  35. Unfortunately, it’s not a good time for me to go abroad since my mother is ill. I think I must be beside her now.

5 Tips to Talk About Your Unavailability

If someone asks for some time from you, or in other words, if they want to know whether you are available or free on a particular day or time, they expect a “YES” from you. However, if you say “NO,” they will undoubtedly feel unhappy.

If you want to say that you are unavailable at their desired time without offending them, you must follow the following tips. You can positively say negative things and win big. Here are the ways.

  1. Choose the right words to express that you are not available. Don’t be too direct. Rather than using the word “NO,” use the words and expressions I mentioned earlier in the post.
  2. Your tone and body language are fundamental when you say to someone that you are not available at their desired time. Maintaining proper tone and gestures is more crucial when you say “NO,” to someone than saying “YES” to them. So keep an optimistic and sincere tone and body language all the time.
  3. Show reasons when you say that you are not available. Showing reasons or explaining can help convince them and not feel unhappy. As human being is rational, they will understand if you can express it properly.
  4. Once you tell someone you are unavailable, offer them an alternate date and time at their convenience if possible. It will help to rethink and reschedule if needed.
  5. Politeness is the key to any good conversation. So no matter whether you are in a formal or informal context, be very polite in your every move. Regardless of time, place, or people, politeness can help you win over anyone in any situation.

Sample Conversation: Politely Indicating Unavailability in English

Situation: In the office, Melanie’s coworker, Raj, approaches her to discuss a project, but Melanie is swamped with another urgent task.

Raj: Hey Melanie, do you have a moment to discuss the new project proposal?

Melanie: Hi Raj, I’d love to, but I’m currently tied up with another deadline. Can we possibly catch up after lunch?

Raj: Of course, that works for me. Thanks for letting me know!

In Conclusion

As saying “NO” to someone can make them upset, it’s challenging to manage a situation when you have no other things to say except it. What can you say without telling them the truth if you are unavailable at a particular time?

Remember! Your time is valuable, and you have priorities for your responsibilities. When you are really not available, express your mind politely and try to mitigate the loss the other person may have due to your unavailability.

The expressions and tips I mentioned above can help you politely say you are unavailable.

Thanks for reading!

Happy learning!

10 Frequently Asked Questions Related to Politely Saying That You Are Not Available in English

10 Frequently Asked Questions Related to Politely Saying That You Are Not Available in English

1. Why is it essential to communicate unavailability politely in English?

Politely conveying unavailability shows respect for the other person’s time and maintains good interpersonal relationships.

2. What are common phrases to say you’re not available?

Phrases like “I’m currently tied up,” “Now’s not a good time,” or “Can we reschedule?” are polite ways to indicate unavailability.

3. Can I provide a reason for my unavailability?

Yes, offering a brief reason can help the other person understand and might make the refusal feel more genuine.

4. How can I ensure the other person doesn’t feel rejected when I say I’m not available?

Using a polite tone, showing appreciation for their approach, and suggesting an alternative time or solution can lessen feelings of rejection.

5. Is it okay to say I’m not available without providing a detailed reason?

Absolutely. While giving a reason can be courteous, you’re not obligated to provide a detailed explanation for your unavailability.

6. How can I handle persistent requests even after saying I’m not available?

Reiterate your unavailability, be firm yet polite, and if necessary, communicate boundaries clearly.

7. Can I use technology to help convey my unavailability?

Yes. Setting up automated email responses, voicemail messages, or status updates can inform others of your unavailability.

8. How should I respond if someone is upset about my unavailability?

Acknowledge their feelings, apologize for any inconvenience, and try to find a solution or compromise if possible.

9. Are there cultural nuances to be aware of when saying you’re not available?

Yes, the directness and phrasing can vary across cultures. It’s beneficial to be informed and sensitive to cultural norms when communicating unavailability.

10. How can I teach children to convey their unavailability politely?

Through role-playing, discussing the importance of respecting time, and modeling polite behavior, children can learn to communicate their unavailability courteously.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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