In any language, saying no can be tricky. But when you’re trying to turn down a friend’s invitation or politely decline an interview request, it can feel challenging. In Spanish, as in English and every other language, there are several ways to say no. How you choose to express this word in Spanish will depend on the context of your sentence and the person you’re speaking with. In this article, we’ll look at some different ways to say no in Spanish and give you examples of how these words are used. Keep reading to learn more!
Master Saying no in Spanish with italki
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What’s no in Spanish
No in Spanish translation is “no.” At the same time, both words are spelled the same. Several other ways to convey a negative emotional response without necessarily saying “no.” We’ll see some of those in subsequent paragraphs.
Deciding on your answer
The first step in choosing the proper no is understanding the context of your conversation. If you’re declining someone’s invitation, the best way to express this is in the negative. If you’re turning down an opportunity (e.g., an interview, a job offer, etc.), start your sentence with “no puedo” (I cannot). If you’re telling someone you don’t want to do something, begin with “no quiero” (I do not want to). These different ways to say no in Spanish are helpful, but the real challenge is choosing the right one.
If your sentence is a bit more complicated, you may want to start with the negative “no” and then add an explanation afterward. For example, if you’re declining an interview request, you might say “no puedo venir” (I cannot come).
“No, por favor”: No, please do not
Some situations call for a softer way of saying no. In this case, you can use the phrase “no, por favor” to express that you don’t want someone to do something. This common phrase is often used to dismiss a request someone has made of you. For example, if you’re eating dinner with a friend and they ask to try your food, you can say, “no, por favor”. In this situation, you may want to add a gentle smile to soften the blow. This phrase can also be used to turn down gifts or favors. For example, if a friend offers to do your laundry and you don’t want them to, you can say, “no, por favor.”
“Ye tengo que decirle que no”: I have to tell him no
If you’re declining an invitation and want to be polite, you may want to start with “yo tengo que decirle no” or “yo tengo que decirle que no” (I have to tell him no). This way of declining may sound overly polite and odd to an English speaker, but it is widespread in Spanish conversation. This is a great way to reject someone’s invitation without seeming impolite. You may also want to add a reason why you can’t attend their event. In this situation, you may want to use the phrase “yo no puedo venir” (I cannot come). This is an excellent, polite way to decline their invitation without hurting their feelings.
“Yo no puedo”: I cannot
This is another good way to decline an invitation. To say “yo no puedo” (I cannot), you’ll want to use the present subjunctive in the first person singular. You may also want to add a reason why you can’t attend their event (e.g., “yo no puedo venir porque estoy muy ocupado” (I cannot come because I’m swamped)). This is a very polite and direct way to decline someone’s invitation.
“No quiero”: I do not want to
If you want to decline an invitation, but you don’t want to come off as rude, you can always say “no quiero it” (I do not want to go). This is a great way to decline an invitation without hurting anyone’s feelings. You can also use this phrase to decline other offers, such as someone asking you to do them a favor. You may also want to add a reason why you don’t want to do something. For example, if someone asks you to help them clean their house, you can say, “no quiero ayudar porque estoy muy ocupado” (I do not want to help because I’m very busy).
Other Spanish words for no
- No gracias — No thank you
You’ve probably heard this expression in the Spanish telenovelas you enjoy. This expression is very polite to say that you’d instead not do something.
Te gustaría algo de té (would you like some tea?)
No gracias. (No, thank you.)
- Qué va — No way
You can use this in more informal settings. “Qué va” literally translates to “what goes.” It is used to express disbelief or to say that you find what a person is saying to be nonsense or untrue.
vámonos al bar hoy después del trabajo. (let’s go to the bar today.)
¡Qué va! (No way!)
- Nunca — Never
For an absolute answer with no way of misinterpretation, use “nunca.”
¿Te gustaría hacer paracaidismo? (will you like to go skydiving?)
- Lo suficiente — It’s enough
When you have had enough of something, use “lo suficiente”.
¿Quieres más azúcar? (do you want more sugar?)
Lo suficiente. (It’s enough.)
- Ni se te occura — Don’t even think about it
Use this “no” to shoot down any outrageous ideas that a person may have. Read the room before using it. Some people may be too sensitive and take offense.
No puedo pagar mi préstamo estudiantil. tal vez deberíamos robar un banco. ( i can’t afford to pay back my student loan. Maybe we should rob a bank.)
Ni se te occura. (Don’t even think about it.)
There are a few ways to say no in Spanish. You can use the word “no” straight up, or you can use a phrase like “no, por favor” or “yo no puedo” to be a bit more polite. You can also add a reason why you can’t or don’t want to do something, like “yo no puedo venir” or “no quiero ir.” The key is to make sure you’re saying no in a way that keeps the conversation polite and friendly. Now that you know the different ways to say no in Spanish, you can be confident when declining an invitation or turning down an offer.
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