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Expressions for Rescheduling Meetings

Expressions for Rescheduling Meetings

It would be nice if we could always be on time for every appointment we make, but unfortunately that isn’t realistic. Sometimes unexpected things happen and we just aren't available when we thought we would be.

When it happens, be prepared with the right expressions to help you smoothly change to a time that is convenient for everyone. In this article, we’ll cover some useful expressions for rescheduling meetings that are great for email and text messages, but also phone conversations and even when talking face-to-face.

Making changes

The procedure for rescheduling usually follows the same basic steps:

  • Apologize for not being able to meet at the original time
  • Give a reason why you must reschedule
  • Suggest a new time to meet

For the first part, you can use standard apologies like “I’m (really) sorry, but~” or “Unfortunately~.” After that, try one of the following expressions.

Push back

This is used when you need to meet later than the original time you decided. You can use it for specific times or for entire days. Both “push back a meeting” and “push a meeting back” are OK.

I’m sorry, but my train is late. Can we push the meeting back to 3 p.m.?
Sue called to say she has to push back the lunch meeting to 12:30. Is that OK?

Bring forward

A businessman looking at his watch and needing to reschedule a meeting

This is the opposite of "push back." If the original time is too late, use this to suggest an earlier time.

My son’s music lesson starts at 5 instead of 6. Can we bring our meeting forward an hour?
The announcement said the staff meeting will be brought forward to 2 p.m.

You can also use these expressions to talk about work deadlines.

The team is moving so quickly that we've brought our delivery date forward by two months.
Delays with our supplier mean we need to push back our target dates.


"Postpone" is a verb that means "to move to a later time." Things can be postponed because of someone's choice or because of situations that cannot be controlled.

I'm sorry, everyone, but we'll need to postpone the company party until the boss has recovered from his injury.
Unfortunately, my flight has been postponed because of the snow storm. Can we move our meeting to tomorrow afternoon?


Of course, you can also simply use “reschedule” if you need to make changes to your plans.

Unfortunately, my assistant made a mistake on my calendar and I can’t meet at our original time, so we’ll need to reschedule. Are you available on Thursday between 2 and 4?

“Something’s come up”

A tired businessman calling someone to reschedule a meeting

This is a useful expression for saying that your schedule has changed unexpectedly, but without giving details. In this case, "come up" means "appear suddenly." It's often used when the original appointment time is coming soon.

I apologize, but something's come up and I won't be able to attend the event tonight. I hope you'll invite me to the next one.
I'm really sorry, but something important came up that I need to deal with immediately. Are you available to meet next week instead?

Move things around

This is a common expression to use when responding to someone’s request to reschedule. It basically means to "reorganize an activity calendar." For example, if you change your morning meeting to a lunch meeting, you might then need to cancel or reschedule a plan you already had for the afternoon.

Are you free at 7 tonight?
Yes, but I'll have to move some things around.

Other common expressions for scheduling and rescheduling


Similar to verbs like "make" and "do," "work" is useful in many different situations. For scheduling, if a date or time "works," it means it is convenient and a good time to meet.

How about Tuesday at 6 p.m.? Does that work for you?
If that isn't a convenient time, please let me know what would work for you.


When talking about schedules and meetings, the adjective "tight" means "very busy." Imagine a calendar that has activities planned almost all day, every day. Just like tight clothes, a tight schedule doesn't give you much room to move!

She always has a tight schedule. We only have time to meet on the weekends.
His schedule is always tight at the end of the year.

Fit (someone/something) in

Some meetings don't require rescheduling. If there is enough free time between other activities, you can simply add a new one and do them all. We use "fit" together with the person or activity that is being discussed.

Mr. Saito is busy in the afternoon, but he can fit you in before his 5 o'clock appointment.
I wish I could fit lunch in with you today, but I'm just too busy!

A stronger version of this expression is "squeeze in," which suggests there is only a very small amount of free time available.

I'm sorry for the short notice, but can you squeeze in a quick conference call before you leave?

Rain check

A woman under an umbrella checking to see if it's raining

This expression comes from outdoor events that are canceled because of bad weather. People who bought tickets are given "rain checks" that allow them to come to another event in the future.

Asking someone for a rain check is not quite the same as rescheduling. Rescheduling means choosing a new time or date for an appointment that is more convenient. Rain checks, however, are for a time in the future that has not been decided yet.

If you are not sure when you will be available for another meeting, ask for a rain check. This expression is a little more casual than the others we've covered in this article, so it's better to use with friends in casual situations.

It looks like I will be very busy for a while. Can I get a rain check? Maybe we can meet next week.
Thank you for inviting me, but unfortunately I can't go tonight. But I'll take a rain check!

Next time you’re late…

Surprises and unexpected changes are a normal part of life, so don't feel bad when you need to reschedule your plans. Just be polite, apologize and suggest a new day or time that's better. Use these examples as a guide and choose the right one that is appropriate for your situation!