How to Say “No”

There are several commonly-used ways to say “no” in conversation when responding to a suggestion, request, invitation, or something similar.

Each is used a little differently depending on how firm or forceful you want to be. I’ve listed a few below.

These are, of course, not all of the possible ways to say “no,” but just some of the most useful ones.

I’ve listed them in the order of forcefulness (strength; emphasis). with the first being the weakest (least forceful).

However, it all depend on how you say it!

You can make “uh-uh” and “nah” just as strong as “no way” with the right tone of voice and emphasis (stress).

(also pronounced “nuh-uh”) –
A: Do you feel like going to see a movie tonight?
B: Uh-uh. I’m tired. Let’s stay home.

A: Do you want to go with us for drinks after work today?
B: Nah, I’m working late tonight.

This is the most versatile and can be used for whatever occasion, of course.
A: Let’s take a vacation to Greece this year.
B: No, I’d rather go to Brazil.

This is informal and a curt (short) way to say “no.” It can sound impolite (rude) if refusing a request.
A: I have a date tomorrow night. Can I borrow your car?
B: Nope, never again after what happened last time.

“No way!”
This is very forceful and is used when there is no chance of the speaker changing his or her mind.
A: Why don’t I move in with you and we can be roommates.
B: No way, dude! You are too messy for me.

In a joking manner, we sometimes say “No way, José!” because the Spanish name José is pronounced “ho-say” and that rhymes with “way.”

“Not on your life!” / “Not in a million years!”
A: Will you write this report for me? I have so much other work to do.
B: Not on your life! / Not in a million years! I asked you for help last week and you said you were “too busy,” remember?


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