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I'd like to ask about a polite way to say "I can't (do something for you)". I'm sure the answer will depend on the context, so specifically, I'm curious about how to convey "I won't be able to answer the phone from..." over email in a business setting.

My attempt is:

海外旅行のため、1月10日から21日まで電話で対応しかねますので、大変ご迷惑をおかけしますが、メールでご連絡をお願い申し上げます。

My specific questions are:

  1. Is しかねる valid for politely giving this type of "excuse" for why you can't do something?
  2. Can できない also be used for politely giving this type of "excuse" for why you can't do something? (e.g., "電話で対応できませんが…")
  3. If neither of these are polite/appropriate in this case, what is a better alternative?

1 Answer 1

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  1. Is しかねる valid for politely giving this type of "excuse" for why you can't do something?

出来かねる or 致しかねる is better. and I think, it's better not to mention about the detailed reason.

  1. Can できない also be used for politely giving this type of "excuse" for why you can't do something? (e.g., "電話で対応できませんが…")

Yes.

  1. If neither of these are polite/appropriate in this case, what is a better alternative?

"1月10日から21日まで休暇を頂くため、お電話での対応を致しかねます。恐れいります恐れ入りますが、ご入用の際には、メールにてご連絡下さいますよう、お願い申し上げます。"

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    「できかねる」は誤用という意見の人もいるようですが、如何でしょう。自分は自信がないです…。oshiete.goo.ne.jp/qa/2056770.html?from=recommend
    – naruto
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 9:45
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    たしかに、「できかねる」はあまり正しくないようです!「致しかねる」は間違いありません。
    – turutosiya
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 13:29
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    Trivial point but I would recommend this: 恐れいります → 恐れ入ります
    – user224579
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 18:06
  • @user224579 thanks! I've just updated!
    – turutosiya
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 10:09

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