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Change or cancel plans in English

29th October 2017

Have you ever made a plan with someone, but then you needed to change or cancel, but you weren’t sure how to say it in English? In this lesson, we will look at some useful expressions that will help you to cancel or change plans, and do it in a polite way.

Break the news.

The first thing you need to do is “break the news” and this idiom means to tell someone something – especially if it is something that they are not expecting to hear or it’s bad news. To “break the news” can start with something like:

I am calling because

I need to speak to you because…


So if you want to cancel e.g. your doctor appointment and be formal you could say:

“I need to cancel my appointment”.

“I won’t be able to attend the appointment on Tuesday.”

I am really sorry. I am not feeling very well. Is it okay if we postpone it until I am feeling better?”


But if you are talking to a person you know well you can say

“I can’t make it to the meeting on Tuesday” – it is more informal.

“ Something has come up and I need to reschedule.”


These expressions are fine if you are cancelling or rescheduling in a reasonable amount of time (you give enough notice). But let’s be real, sometimes we need to change or cancel an appointment without much warning. So, in this case you should include an apology.

“ I am really sorry but I need to cancel…”

I am so sorry for the late notice, but…. I need to cancel.”

My apologies. I need to cancel.”


There are lots and lots of other lessons here on the Celtic English Academy blog. Check it out.

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