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Is It Correct to Say “You Are Cordially Invited”?

When planning an exciting event, you usually want to share the moment with others. However, you don’t want to seem overly eager or desperate in your invitation, especially if the invitee is just an acquaintance or a business partner. This is an example of when it’s appropriate to say, “You are cordially invited.”

It is correct to say, “You are cordially invited,” as a formal way to express a deep desire for someone to attend an event or take action. Adding “cordially” to the phrase “You are invited” shows enthusiasm and formality without overwhelming an acquaintance or coworker with emotion. “Cordially” gives a subtle increase of emotion to an otherwise simple, matter-of-fact statement.

Let’s go over what precisely this standard invitation means.

What Does “You Are Cordially Invited” Mean?

If someone sends you a notice that “You are cordially invited,” it means he or she respectfully would love for you to attend something very special.

The key word here is “cordially,” which originates from the Latin root word for “heart.” Essentially, if someone cordially invites you, they wholeheartedly want you there.

How Do You Use “You Are Cordially Invited”?

You can use “You are cordially invited” on its own or with a series of following sentences to give further context. You can make it the headline of an email or an attention-grabbing headline on a physical invitation.

Typically, you would use “You are cordially invited” to request someone’s presence without appearing too intense or demanding.

  • You are cordially invited to celebrate the soon-to-be newest member of our family.

Depending on who you’re talking to, slight variations to the addressee still extend the invitation. See the table below for all the different forms.

2nd SingularYouAreCordially Invited
2nd Plural, FormalAll of you/you allAreCordially Invited
2nd Plural, InformalY’allAreCordially Invited
3rd SingularHe/SheIsCordially Invited
3rd PluralTheyAreCordially Invited
3rd PluralEveryoneIsCordially Invited
3rd PluralEverybodyIsCordially Invited

Why Does “To Be” Change to “Are” With the Word “You”? 

It is not grammatically proper to say “you is,” even if the noun “you” is in the singular form. This is because the word “you” was originally only meant to be plural. 

Most non-English languages have two variations of the term “you,” one informal and one formal. English also used to have two variations. Over time, the language evolved to where we universally use “you,” whether singular, plural, formal, or informal.

When Can You Use “You Are Cordially Invited”?

You can use “You are cordially invited” to invite people in a friendly yet professional manner. It’s most useful when a casual invitation isn’t appropriate.

For example, you wouldn’t invite a group of potential business partners to coffee by using “Be there or be square.” A more appropriate message would be, “You are cordially invited to meet for coffee at the local bistro.”

In What Context Can You Use “You Are Cordially Invited”?

The most common usage of “You are cordially invited” is inviting friends and family to a wedding or formal event.

Image by fauxels via Pexels

Other special occasions where you can use “You are cordially invited” include the following:

  • Family reunions
  • Dinner parties
  • Baptisms
  • Grand openings or re-openings
  • Celebrations of life (funeral)

How to Respond if Someone Sends You a Cordial Invitation

We now know what exactly it means to be cordially invited. What if you don’t know what to say or when you should respond? Your response depends on how you received the message.

If someone sends you an email or text message, you should respond the same way you received it. You might need some time to decide or confirm your schedule. In this case, let them know you will get back to them when you know for sure if you can make it. Within a few days is a reasonable amount of time to reply.

If you were sent an invitation in the mail or on a social media platform, you would generally follow the instructions provided on the invitation itself. You’ll often see this for weddings and baby showers, as the hosts will likely have a registry or a page to confirm your RSVP.

In-person invitations are a little harder to dodge if you aren’t sure you can commit. You could say, “Thanks for inviting me. I’ll check my calendar and get back to you on that.”

If you need more information, you could say, “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll need more information before I can give you an answer.”

A general rule of thumb is to be truthful about whether you can accept the invite or not.

Using “You Are Cordially Invited” in a Full Sentence

Typically, you should use “You are cordially invited” as a standalone sentence or as an independent clause at the beginning of a sentence. In the latter case, you will add “to” as a preposition connecting more information or “to” in an infinitive phrase.

  • You are cordially invited to witness the union of husband and wife.
  • You are cordially invited to a celebration of life to honor the beloved Robert Smith III.
  • You are cordially invited to take advantage of our senior discount program.

If addressing a group, you have the option to replace “you” with “all,” and it is still grammatically correct.

  • All are cordially invited to the reception immediately after the ceremony.

The words “everyone” and “everybody” are technically talking about a group of people, the end of both words are singular, meaning they must apply the singular grammar rule.

  • Everyone here is cordially invited.
  • Everybody is cordially invited to attend the reception right after the ceremony.

“You are cordially invited” is a grammatically correct sentence that includes all parts of speech necessary for a complete sentence: a subject and a verb and/or predicate, at the very least.

The subject (purple) is the focus of the sentence that takes action. A verb (red) describes the subject’s action. The predicate includes the verb and words that follow it, including the adverb (light blue).

  • You are cordially invited.

The word “invited” may confuse you. We typically use “invited” as the past tense of “invite,” a verb. In this case, the verb is “are,” and “invited” is a past participle adjective (dark blue).

  • You are cordially invited.

The linking verb “are” connects the subject complement adjective “invited” to describe the subject “You.”

When Not to Use “You Are Cordially Invited”

While most consider it a safe way to word an invitation, there are instances where using “You are cordially invited” may be too formal. A child’s birthday party or a barbecue are just two occasions where a casual invitation is more suitable.

Throwing a party for a kid is a playful, sometimes wild occasion. Using “You are cordially invited” to invite your child’s friends to the party can be too serious and perhaps disingenuous.

Barbecues include family and close friends. Cordially inviting people you are close to isn’t necessary. In fact, they might even think it’s weird.

What Can You Use Instead of “You Are Cordially Invited”?

There are plenty of better ways to word a formal invitation if “You are cordially invited” doesn’t fit the tone. You could simply remove the adverb from the sentence or use an entirely different phrase. 

  • Please join us!
  • It would be an honor to have you there.
  • Your presence is requested.
  • Save the date!

“You are cordially invited” is usually reserved for written invitations, but you can use it in face-to-face interactions. If you’re looking to invite someone verbally, there are better options.

  • Would you like to go with us?
  • We would love to have you attend.
  • You are welcome to come.

Synonyms for “Cordial”

Several words that mean the same thing as “cordial.” Here are some examples that you could use instead to describe someone who is cordial (source).

  • Friendly
  • Gracious
  • Sincere
  • Warm
  • Warm-hearted
  • Chummy
  • Kind

If you are describing something you eat or drink, you could replace the word cordial with any of the following words:

  • Invigorating
  • Rejuvenating
  • Hearty
  • Refreshing
  • Restorative

Major Sentences

Major sentences are grammatically complete because they include a subject, verb, and predicate. “You are cordially invited” is an example of a major sentence, despite the initial lack of detail of what you are invited to. There’s usually more context given afterward.

A major sentence could include an optional second noun acting as the direct object. We can break major sentences down into the following formula: subject + verb [+ object]. 

If a sentence doesn’t include a subject or verb, such as “Thanks,” yet stands on its own, it is a minor sentence.

Polite Expressions in the Passive Voice

The passive voice is often misunderstood as something to avoid in grammar. There are instances where it is helpful in polite conversation or deflection, but you must be wary of what you imply when you use the passive voice. 

The purpose of passive voice is to shift the focus from the subject to the object. There are three main instances when it is better to use than active voice (source).

  • When you don’t want to say who or what did an action.
  • If it is unknown who or what did it.
  • If the object is the most crucial part of the sentence.

In the case of polite expressions, using passive voice still gets your point across without being too informal with someone you hardly know. However, this could be passing the buck or trying to distance yourself from the other person.

If your coworker announces their resignation, you may want to let them know their absence in the workplace will be noticed. However, telling them, “I will miss you,” can sound too personal and close if you have never spent time with them outside of the work setting.

This interaction is better suited for speaking in the passive voice. “You will be missed” is the passive version of “I will miss you.” Omitting yourself from the sentence makes it sound more professional, but it still implies that you will miss your coworker.

Read more about “You will be missed” in our article Is It Correct to Say “You Will Be Missed”?

For British English speakers, the passive voice is still proper and polite in formal conversation (source). American English speakers prefer the active voice in formal contexts, especially in writing, but the passive voice has essential uses for the three situations listed above.

“You Are Cordially Invited” and the Passive Voice

Now that we’ve covered why you would use the passive voice, let’s look at “You are cordially invited.” The subject of the invitation is “You.” Because it is passive, the subject receives the invitation instead of giving it.

Image by Tara Winstead via Pexels

The active variation “I (cordially) invite you” says the same thing. The difference is that the subject “I” is the inviter, and the object “you” is the receiver. Notice how clear the active voice is: you know exactly who is giving the invitation and who is receiving it.

You can read about an example of a polite expression in the active voice in Is It Correct to Say “I Really Appreciate Your Help”?

This clarity is why we prefer the active voice in most speaking and writing – the listener is less likely to mistake who is giving and who is receiving. Nonetheless, “You are cordially invited” is an invitation with a longstanding history in formal invitations. Therefore, it is still appropriate to use in such cases.

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Oftentimes, asking for something in the passive voice is the most gentle way of doing so. However, it is better to use the active voice when writing academically or answering direct questions.

Final Thoughts 

In a time where social media invites and text messages are commonplace, many feel there is something special about the extra effort that goes into a cordial invite on paper. However, that can be intimidating for some people. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re only comfortable sending a digital invitation. No matter the method you choose, the invitee will appreciate the gesture.

As you go through all the exciting times life offers and make new friends, you may receive invitations like this.