If you own your own business or work in one, sooner or later you'll have to write an email of rejection. Whether it's to turn down an unrequested suggestion/offer somebody has made to you or to inform somebody that something they have submitted to you (e.g. a bid for a contract, an improved offer, a manuscript for a book etc...) has not been successful, it's normal to inform them about the news by email.

This can be difficult to do. Most people (myself included) feel disappointed or even angry when they are turned down for something. And it's important to remember this when you have to write a business email or letter of rejection to somebody. If you don't, you can make an already bad situation worse.

When you write an email business email or letter of rejection, it needs to be:

  • Formal
  • Direct but polite
  • Short
  • Give a good reason(s) why they have been rejected

If necessary, you can also offer them the opportunity to talk with you about your decision. I would do this if you think you may work or do some business with them in the future.

In this online exercise on 'writing business emails', you will find two examples of good business rejection emails. Using these, we will look at both the structure of a good rejection email and professional English phrases that you should use in it.


Example & Exercise: Emails of rejection

Read the following two emails of rejection. In the first email, a company is turning down an unrequested/unsolicited offer they have received to buy photocopiers. In the second email, a company is informing another company that they have been unsuccessful in a bid for a contract.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Email 1

Dear Mr Boxall,

Thank you for your enquiry about supplying our company with new photocopying equipment.

Unfortunately, we are currently not in need of replacing our existing photocopiers. We recently entered a new 2 year contract with our existing photocopier provider.

You would be more than welcome to contact us again when our current contract is up for renewal.

Yours sincerely,


Jeff Thompson
Office Manager

Email 2

Dear Mrs Robinson,

Thank you for submitting a bid for the re-design of our website. After careful consideration of all the proposals we received for the contract, I regret to inform you that on this occasion your bid has been unsuccessful. We have decided to offer the contract to one of the other bidders.

Although your proposal was very professional and well-thought out, we felt that the design didn't focus enough on the social media channels our company uses and it was a little over complicated and confusing to use.

We will be more than happy to consider you for any web development or redesign projects we have in the future.

If you require any further feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me by email on dmitchell@powersports.com or by phone on 01535 6547196.

Yours sincerely,


David Mitchell
Project Manager

Now do the QUIZ below to make sure you know how to write this type of email.

Click to see more email/letter exercises & examples


Quiz: How to write a business email of rejection

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, an Additional Information Icon "" will appear next to the answer. Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation.

1. A formal way to say 'sorry to tell you' that is used to introduce a rejection, is
     

I regret to inform you:
(phrase) This phrase is used to introduce bad news. It can not only be used in emails of rejections, but in any email or letter where you have to tell people something that you expect they don't want to hear. For example, 'I/we regret to inform you that the concert has been cancelled'.

This phrase is followed by 'that' and what they've been rejected for/the bad news. For example, 'I regret to inform you that your application for the manager's post has been unsuccessful'.

After this, you would give a reason(s) for your decision.

If you like, you can place 'after careful consideration' in front of this phrase.

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2. A polite phrase used to offer somebody the chance to contact you to talk about the rejection, is
     

If you require any further feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me by:
(phrase) When you are rejecting a company or a person who has submitted something (e.g. a book to be published, an offer for a contract) or applied for something (e.g. a job), it is polite to offer them the opportunity to contact you to find out more details why. This is what this phrase does.

You always use this phrase at the very end of the email or letter. It is normally followed by your email address ('email on chrisclayton@kpm.com'). You can also include a phone number as well if you want ('or by phone on 7964 561734').

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3. A phrase used to start an email of rejection to an unrequested offer somebody has made to you, is
     

Thank you for your enquiry about:
(phrase) When you start any business email or letter where's there has already been contact, the first sentence should explain what that contact was and what it was about. In the context of an unrequested offer, you should use 'thank you for your enquiry about' to do this. This should then be followed by details of what they have offered you. For example, 'thank you for your enquiry about renting one of our properties in Miami'.

An 'enquiry' means an unrequested contact somebody has made (e.g. an offer, request for information, a suggestion etc...). Although you can also use 'offer to' or 'suggestion about' (when somebody has made a recommendation) instead of 'enquiry about' in this phrase, for me 'enquiry about' sounds more professional.

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4. A phrase that is used to tell the company/person you will consider them for any future contracts/work you have, is
     

We will be more than happy to consider you for:
(phrase) This formal phrase is used in an email of rejection to somebody who has submitted something (a bid to win a contract, a place in a competition, a job etc...). It's basically the same as saying 'although you were unlucky this time, you may get it next time'. It is used out of politeness and you can use it even if you have no intention of doing business or working with the person or company in the future.

This phrase is always followed by actually saying what you will consider them for in future (normally, the same type of thing that you've just rejected). For example, 'we will be more than happy to consider you for any project work we have in the future'.

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5. A phrase which means you have thought long and hard before reaching a decision, is
     

After careful consideration:
(phrase) This phrase is a formal and polite way used to introduce a rejection in an email or letter. It basically suggests to the person that the decision to reject them was difficult. For me, it is an excellent way to introduce the news of the rejection.

This phrase is normally used when you are rejecting something that a person/company has submitted to you (e.g. a bid for a contract, an improved offer, a manuscript for book etc...). Normally, this phrase would be followed by 'I regret to inform you'. For example, 'after careful consideration, I regret to inform you...'.

If you feel the need, you can write a little about what you've actually considered after the phrase. For example, 'after careful consideration of your improved offer, I regret to inform you...'.

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6. A phrase used to tell somebody the actual reason why they have been rejected, is
     

We felt that:
(phrase) This phrase gives the reason why something that has been submitted to you (e.g. a bid for a contract, an improved offer, a manuscript for book etc...) had been rejected. For example, 'we felt that your software is far too technical for both our staff and our needs'.

To make sure that the person or company doesn't pester (try to convince that your decision to reject them was wrong) you afterwards, give a reason that they won't be able to argue with you about.

Also, never use 'I' in this phrase, always use 'we'. It makes it sound like a group decision and more difficult to change.

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7. A phrase used to tell a person/company to contact you in the future when you may need the thing from them, is
     

You would be more than welcome to contact us again:
(phrase) This phrase is used out of politeness in an email of rejection when somebody has made an unrequested offer to you (although you can also use it when somebody has had something they've submitted turned down (see below)).

It's basically the same as saying 'although we don't need what you're offering now, we may do in the future'. Even if you have no intention of doing business or working with the person or company in the future, you can use this phrase just to be polite.

Normally, this phrase is followed by details of when they should contact you and why. For example, 'you would be more than welcome to contact us again at the end of the year when our current contract ends'.

For a rejection email for something which has been submitted (e.g. a contract bid), you can use this phrase in a similar way (to tell them when to resubmit something or submit a bid for a different contract). If you are informing them about a new contract, replace 'contact us again' in the phrase with 'submit a bid' and follow it be saying when and what it is. For example, 'you would be more than welcome to submit a bid by the end of January to build our new factory in Portugal'.

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8. A phrase used to start an email of rejection to somebody who has submitted a contract bid, is
     

Thank you for submitting a bid:
(phrase) When you start any business email or letter where's there has already been contact, the first sentence should explain what that contact was and what it was about. When you are writing an email to a company who has submitted/tendered a bid to win a contract with you, you should use 'thank you for submitting a bid' to do this.

This should then be followed by details of what the contract they wanted to win was. For example, 'thank you for submitting a bid to supply air conditioning for our Leeds factory'.

You can use this phrase for starting an email of rejection for any type of submission (e.g. a book wanting to be published etc...) by replacing 'bid' in the phrase with the name of the thing that has been submitted. For example, 'thank you for submitting a book to be published by our company'.

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9. A polite way to tell somebody that you don't require something they have offered you, is
     

Unfortunately, we are currently not in need of:
(phrase) This phrase is used to reject an unrequested offer you have received. It's basically a formal and polite way to say 'we're not interested in what you have to offer or sell'.

You would follow this phrase with details of what they have offered you. For example, 'unfortunately, we are currently not in need of new air conditioning units'.

If you want to (although it is not necessary), you can follow this sentence with a reason why you are not (e.g. 'we recently installed new air conditioning units').

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10. A phrase used to tell the person/company that you have given the contract/project/work to somebody else, is
     

We have decided to offer:
(phrase) Some people (especially salespeople) won't take no for an answer. The best way to prevent people from annoying you after you have rejected what they have submitted to you (e.g. a bid for a contract, an improved offer, a manuscript for book etc...), is to tell them in the rejection email that you have bought the object(s) from somebody else or selected an alternative.

This is what this phrase is used for. If you are rejecting a contract bid, you can follow this phrase with 'the contract to another company'. For example 'we have decided to offer the contract to another company'.

You can change the wording of this to suit the thing which is being rejected. For example 'we have decided to select a book from a different author to publish'.

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11. A phrase which is used to introduce some good things about a bid or offer which has been submitted, is
     

Although your proposal was:
(phrase) Although it is important to give a reason why you have rejected something, it is polite to also talk about the good things of something (if there aren't any, you should invent some) that has been submitted to you.

This phrase is used to do both. In the first part of the sentence you would say good things about what has been submitted to you. In the second part of the sentence (after a comma), you explain why they have been rejected. For example, 'although your proposal was competitively priced and professionally presented, we felt that your software is far too technical for both our staff and our needs'.

You can change the wording of this phrase to suit the thing which is being rejected. For example, 'although your book' or 'although your offer/bid'.

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Practice

Now that you understand the vocabulary, practice it by writing your own email of rejection in English with the new words/phrases.

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