How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (2023)

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (1)

September 13, 2021 by Olga Put Spanish Grammar 0 comments

Do you know how to say “no” in Spanish in a polite way?

It’s not necessarily easy to say “no” in Spanish or any other language. Being assertive is a skill that takes practice. Of course, you don’t want to be rude or offensive.

Keep reading to learn how to say “no” in Spanish politely and colloquially. I’ll show you many useful expressions for turning things down or denying what other people say.

23 Ways to Say ‘No’ in Spanish

In Latin America, people are so polite that quite often they say “yes” when they really mean “no.” But, this aspect of the culture is another topic.

For today, let me show you how to say “no” in Spanish in a polite manner and also in more informal or colloquial ways.

1. No

Okay, this one looks pretty similar to the English word, but the pronunciation is different. It’s a short /no/ not a diphthong /noʊ/. You can hear the Spanish pronunciation here. It’s a bit of a blunt way to say “no”—but a valid one.

—¿Lo quieres?

—Do you want it?

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (2)

2. No gracias – No, thank you

How do you say “no” in Spanish without sounding offensive? No gracias. It’s the same as the expression above, only much more polite.

—¿Lo quieres?
—No, gracias.

—Do you want it?
—No, thank you.

3. Nop – Nope

To say “no” in Spanish in a super informal way, use this expression. It works the same way as the English “nope” but once again, make it a short /o/ instead of the English diphthong.

It’s okay to use with friends, but if you say it to your teacher, for example, you might sound a bit impolite.

—¿Estudiaste para el examen?
—Nop, no tuve tiempo.

—Did you study for the exam?
—Nope, I didn’t have time.

(Video) Formal and Informal Spanish Grammar

4. Nel – Nah

This is a slang expression from Mexico City.

—¿Vamos al cine?

—Let’s go to the cinema?

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (3)

5. Ni en tus sueños – In your dreams

This is an informal, creative, and sarcastic way to deny something.

—¿Quieres salir conmigo?
—Ni en tus sueños.

—Do you want to go out with me?
—In your dreams.

See also: 11 Simple Ways to Say ‘Of Course’ in Spanish

6. Por supuesto que no – Of course not

This is a stronger way to deny something. Imagine saying it with a slightly indignant tone.

—¿Lo hiciste?
—¡Por supuesto que no! ¿Quién crees que soy?

—You did it?
—Of course not! Who do you think I am?

7. Para nada – Not at all

Here’s another way to deny something. Use it in both informal and formal situations.

—¿Te gusta la pintura?
—Para nada.

—Do you like the painting?
—Not at all.

8. Claro que no – Of course not

This is a neutral, polite way to say “no” in Spanish if you want to deny something.

—Tú no te llevaste mis llaves, ¿verdad?
—Claro que no.

—You didn’t take my keys, did you?
—Of course not.

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (4)

9. ¿Estás loco o qué? – Are you crazy or what?

This informal phrase is a blunt way to deny something without explicitly saying “no.”

—¿Puedes cuidar de mi casa mientras me voy de vacaciones?
—¿Estás loco o qué? Tengo mi propia vida.

—Can you take care of my house while I go on vacation?
—Are you crazy or what? I have my own life.

10. Ni se te ocurra – Don’t even think about it.

This phrase is informal but still polite.

(Video) How and when to switch informal Spanish to formal Spanish

—Podríamos no ir a la última clase y escaparnos a la playa un ratito.
—Ni se te ocurra. Tenemos un examen mañana.

—We could skip the last class and go to the beach for a little while.
—Don’t even think about it. We have an exam tomorrow.

11. Obvio que no – Obviously not

Here’s another informal way to say “no” in Spanish to deny something.

—¿Te gustan las almejas?
—Obvio que no.

—Do you like clams?
—Obviously not.

12. Ya quisiera – I wish

This is a lovely, colloquial, and indirect way to say “no” in Spanish.

—¿Dormiste la siesta?
—Ya quisiera.

—Did you take a nap?
—I wish.

13. Negativo – Negative

Like in English, this phrase comes from police radio codes. People also use it in informal conversations.

—¿El sospechoso está ahí?

—Is the suspect there?

14. Ni de broma – No way

Another colloquial expression, this is a synonym of para nada. It literally translates to “not even as a joke.”

—¿Puedes prestarme tu coche?
—¡Ni de broma!

—Can you lend me your car?
—No way.

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (5)

15. En absoluto – Not at all

This one is more formal. Use it to emphasize your disagreement.

—¿A ti te gustan las nueces?
—¡En absoluto! Soy alérgico.

—Do you like nuts?
—Absolutely not. I am allergic.

16. De ninguna manera – No way

This is also a bit more formal expression, but your mother could perfectly deny you something using it.

—Mamá, ¿puedo quedarme por la noche en la casa de Juan?
—De ninguna manera. Los niños tienen que dormir en sus propias casas.

—Mom, can I spend the night at Juan’s house?
—No way. Children have to sleep in their own houses.

Hand-picked for you: Ningun vs Ninguno: What’s the Difference?

(Video) Top 15 phrases with "NO" in Spanish

17. Nada de esto – No way

This is another expression that Spanish-speaking parents like to use.

—Mamá, ¿puedo comprarme estos zapatos?
—Nada de esto señorita. Tienes diez años. Las niñas de tu edad no usan tacones.

—Mom, can I buy these shoes?
—Mo way, young lady. Girls your age don’t wear heels.

18. Ni lo pienses – Don’t even think about it

Use this phrase with your friends to say “no” in a non offensive but decisive way.

—¿Y sí nos vamos en tu coche?
—Ni lo pienses. No quiero manejar todo el día.

—And if we go in your car?
—Don’t even think about it. I don’t want to drive all day.

19. Ni hablar – No way

If you hear this phrase, there’s no space for negotiation.

—Pa, ¿puedo usar tu traje hoy por la noche?
—Ni hablar. Lo vas a ensuciar.

—Dad, can I use your suit tonight?
—No way. You’re going to mess it up.

20. No me da la gana – I don’t feel like it

This is an informal and frank way to say “no.”

—¡Vamos al parque!
—No me da la gana.

—Let’s go to the park!
—I don’t want to.

How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions (6)

21. No está el horno para bollos – This is the wrong moment

This expression means that it’s not a good moment to do something and we should wait a bit for a more favorable situation.

—¿Vamos a pedirle a Pedro que nos preste su coche?
—Hoy mejor no. No está el horno para bollos, acaba de romper con su novia.

—Let’s ask Pedro to lend us his car.
—Better not today. This is the wrong moment, he just broke up with his girlfriend.

22. ¡Qué va! – No way!

Want to say ‘no’ in Spanish in a colloquial way? Say ¡qué va!

—¿Te gustan los perros?
—¡Qué va! Yo soy fanático de los gatos.

—Do you like dogs?
—No way! I’m a cat person.

23. Bajo ningún concepto – By no means

This is a strong and formal way to turn something down or deny something.

—¿Puedes prestarme mil pesos?
—Bajo ningún concepto. Nunca pagas tus deudas.

—Can you lend me a thousand pesos?
—By no means. You never pay your debts.

(Video) 10 informal ways to ask "How are you?" in Spanish

Practice Saying ‘No’ in Spanish!

Now you know how to say “no” in Spanish in so many ways. Spanish speakers get creative when they want to turn something down or deny something without offending the other person.

The best way to learn how people in the street speak is to listen to authentic dialogues as often as possible. Watch lots of Spanish TV and Spanish series to learn colloquial expressions and make them yours.

It takes time to sound like a Spanish native speaker, but it’s worth the effort. Did you know that according to the BBC, bilingual people are more empathetic than people who only speak one language? And if you ever get Alzheimer’s, you’ll show symptoms five years later than monolingual speakers. I know, it’s a pretty delayed reward, but I find it motivating.

If you want to take your Spanish to the next level, sign up for a free trial class. Practice in a 1-to-1 setting with a friendly, experienced, native-Spanish-speaking teacher from Guatemala. Take the opportunity to work on saying “no” in Spanish and so much more!

Ready to learn more Spanish grammar and vocabulary? Check these out!

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  • Author
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Olga Put

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

I'm a Spanish philologist, teacher, and freelance writer with a Master's degree in Humanities from Madrid. I speak Polish, Spanish, and English fluently, and want to get better in Portuguese and German. A lover of literature, and Mexican spicy cuisine, I've lived in Poland, Spain, and Mexico and I'm currently living and teaching in Madeira, Portugal.

Latest posts by Olga Put (see all)

  • Which Spanish Dialect Should You Learn? - February 18, 2023
  • 100+ Basic Spanish Words and Phrases for Travelers - February 17, 2023
  • 12 Easy Steps To Becoming an English-Spanish Translator - February 15, 2023

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(Video) GREETINGS In Spanish | Formal vs Informal


How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions? ›

De ninguna manera is a polite and firm way to say 'no' in Spanish. As a result, you can use it in both formal and informal situations. Depending on the context, de ninguna manera means 'no way' or 'absolutely not'.

How to do say no in Spanish? ›

  1. No puedo. One of the most common ways to say No in Spanish is No puedo. ...
  2. No quiero. If you don't want to do something, you can use the phrase No quiero. ...
  3. Para nada. When you want to say “No” in Spanish, Para nada is a great expression to use. ...
  4. Ni se te ocurra. ...
  5. Ni lo sueñes. ...
  6. De ninguna manera. ...
  7. Ni hablar.

How do Mexicans say no? ›

De ninguna manera is a polite and firm way to say 'no' in Spanish. As a result, you can use it in both formal and informal situations. Depending on the context, de ninguna manera means 'no way' or 'absolutely not'.

Is no in Spanish just no? ›

Almost everyone knows how to say “no” in Spanish… mainly because it's the same word as in English: “no” is no. But, when speaking any language, there are so many nuances to a single word. In English you don't often just say “no”.

How do you say no formally? ›

How to say no in any situation – 20 phrases
  1. I appreciate the offer/invite, but I can't commit.
  2. I'm honored by the offer/invites, but can't.
  3. I'm flattered you considered me, but unfortunately I'll have to pass this time.
  4. I appreciate the offer/invite, but I am completely booked.
  5. Thank you for thinking of me, but I can't.
Mar 18, 2021

What is the formal word of say no? ›

  • dismiss.
  • rebuff.
  • refuse.
  • spurn.
  • decline.
  • disapprove.
  • reprobate.
  • repudiate.

What is the best way to say no? ›

10 different ways to say no
  1. Sadly, I have something else going on.
  2. I have another commitment.
  3. I wish I were able to.
  4. I'm afraid I can't.
  5. I don't have the bandwidth for that right now.
  6. I'm honored you asked me, but I simply can't.
  7. Thanks for thinking of me. ...
  8. I'm sorry, I'm not able to fit this in.
Jan 7, 2022

How do you politely refuse in Spanish? ›

To decline an invitation in Spanish politely, you can use one of the following phrases:
  1. Lo siento, pero ya tengo un compromiso – I am sorry, but I have already made plans.
  2. Me gustaría, pero no puedo – I'd love, but I can't.
  3. Desafortunadamente no puedo – Unfortunately, I can't.
Sep 25, 2019

How do you say no politely in Mexico? ›

For today, let me show you how to say “no” in Spanish in a polite manner and also in more informal or colloquial ways.
  1. No. ...
  2. No gracias – No, thank you. ...
  3. Nop – Nope. ...
  4. Nel – Nah. ...
  5. Ni en tus sueños – In your dreams. ...
  6. Por supuesto que no – Of course not. ...
  7. Para nada – Not at all. ...
  8. Claro que no – Of course not.
Sep 13, 2021

What does no vato mean? ›

novata [noˈvatu , noˈvata] inexperienced , raw. masculine noun, feminine noun.

Is it rude to say no mames? ›

“No Mames” is a VERY rude and disgusting phrase to use in front of a woman, or strangers. “No Manches” Is a lot more decent, but it still is not proper Spanish. “No Manches” liberally means, “don't screw (joke or play) around” or “quit screwing around.”

What kind of word is no in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, the most common negative word is no, which can be used as an adverb or adjective. As an adverb negating a sentence, it always comes immediately before the verb, unless the verb is preceded by an object, in which case it comes immediately before the object.

What is a no bueno? ›

(US, informal, mildly humorous) not good; no good; bad.

What language is no Tengo? ›


What is the difference between no sé and no lo sé? ›

The most common one you'll see is no lo sé. But you may also hear yo no sé or just no sé. Any of those are fine, and they're often used interchangeably. To be technical, the difference is that lo represents “it” — the “it” that you don't know.

What are 4 ways to say no? ›

How to Say “No” for Any Reason at All!
  • I wish I could make it work.
  • I wish I were able to.
  • I'd rather not.
  • I'm afraid I can't.
  • If only I could!
  • No thanks, I won't be able to make it.
  • Not this time.
  • Unfortunately, it's not a good time.

What are the six ways to say no? ›

The psychologist Trevor Powell describes six ways of saying no - you choose which one to use depending on the situation:
  • The direct "no" ...
  • The reflecting "no" ...
  • The raincheck "no" ...
  • The enquiring "no" ...
  • The broken record "no"
Mar 4, 2021

How do you say oh no professionally? ›

“Oh no. I'm late for my appointment yet again.”
What is another word for oh no?
uh ohgood grief
oh dearnot again
here we go againwhat the heck
what the hellwhy me
oy veyoi
1 more row

How do you say I can't come politely? ›

How to say no politely
  1. I'm sorry, I'm busy on Friday.
  2. I'm afraid I can't make this Friday.
  3. It would be really nice, but I'm afraid I can't come.
  4. That sounds great, but I'm afraid I can't come.
  5. That's a really nice invitation, but I'm afraid I can't come.
Nov 9, 2016

How do you say no without insulting? ›

How to Say No to Others Without Offending Them
  1. Start small. ...
  2. Just say it. ...
  3. Explain why– briefly. ...
  4. Offer an alternative. ...
  5. Have a “policy.” ...
  6. “Let me think about it.” ...
  7. Make it clear you're saying “no” to the request, not to the person. ...
  8. Improve your self-esteem.
Oct 2, 2019

How do you put no in a sentence in Spanish? ›

The most basic way to make a sentence negative in Spanish is to place a “no” before the verb and after the subject. Following this very simple rule, you can start using basic negation in your conversations: Subject + No + Verb.

How do you express hate in Spanish? ›

Odio: “I hate”. The strongest expression for expressing disgust. This works for everything you could possibly hate, for example about a restaurant or an annoying thing. Me fastidia / Me fastidian: “It bothers me / They bother me.” The difference between these expressions is basically singular vs.

How do you say sorry in Spanish i don t care? ›

The Spanish translation of “I don't care” is No me importa. It's pronounced [ˈno me i̯m. ˈpoɾ. ta] in the IPA transcription.

What is considered the most respectful disrespectful in Mexico? ›

Mexicans often "hold" a gesture (a handshake, a squeeze of the arm, a hug) longer than Americans and Canadians do. Don't stand with your hands on your hips; this signifies anger. It is considered rude to stand around with your hands in your pockets.

What is no manches? ›

"No Manches!", which literally translates to "Don't Stain!", is arguably the most popular slang phrase used in Mexico. The phrase derived from "No Mames!," which translates to "Don't Suck!," and "No Manches!" evolved as a more mellow way of saying the same thing.

What is slang for OK in Mexico? ›


There's no literal translation for órale in English. Instead, it can mean one of a few different expressions, such as: “Okay”

What is La Pinta? ›

La Pinta (Spanish for The Painted One, The Look, or The Spotted One) was the fastest of the three Spanish ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492. The New World was first sighted by Rodrigo de Triana aboard La Pinta on 12 October 1492.

What is a Novato? ›

noun. fresher [noun] (British) a student who has just started his/her first term at a university. freshman [noun] (American) a student who is in his/her first year at university. novice [noun] a beginner in any skill etc.

What does Wei mean in Spanish? ›

Güey, pronounced “whey,” is Mexican slang for “dumbass” or “idiot,” although it is can also be used more as a slang term for “man” or “dude.”

Is chupa a bad word? ›

Spanish-speaking social media users have pointed out that “chupa” literally means “suck” or “to suck”. The trailer actually addresses the word's meaning, with one character pointing out that Alex's nickname for the chupacabra means “sucker”, suggesting it could be interpreted as “bad”.

What does Ah Perro mean? ›

Use this expression to show amazement and surprise. It's very similar to oh my gosh. But in a very informal way.

Is a huevo a bad word? ›

While the word 'huevo' in Spanish means 'egg', the phrase '¡A huevo! ' has nothing to do with food. It actually means 'hell yeah! ' 'Want to come to the party tonight?

What does no mucho mean? ›

not much. Millions translate with DeepL every day.

Which letter is rarely used in Spanish? ›

The letters k and w do not occur in Spanish words unless the word has been borrowed from another language such as English or even Japanese. For example, el karate is considered a “Spanish” noun, even though the k is not a Spanish letter.

What words exist in Spanish but not English? ›

10 Spanish Words & Phrases That Don't Translate Into English
  • #1 Puente. ...
  • #2 ¡Ojo! ...
  • #3 Quedarse de piedra. ...
  • #4 Consuegro, consuegra. ...
  • #5 ¡El mundo es un pañuelo! ...
  • #6 Empalagar. ...
  • #7 ¡Nada del otro mundo! ...
  • #8 Estrenar.
Jan 30, 2020

Is it OK to say no bueno? ›

There's no literal equivalent for No bueno, which in English would be something like “No good”. The proper expression requires us to add the verb ser/estar (the verb to be): No está bien (it's not right) or, plainly, no es bueno (it's not good). Same thing with no problema (no problem).

What is Bueno Bueno? ›

interjection Spanish. good; all right.

Do Spanish speakers say no bueno? ›

No bueno is a Spanish phrase that means “no good” or “not good.” However, while this expression uses Spanish words, it is an American phrase. Urban Dictionary states that while no bueno technically translated to no good, native Spanish speakers will not actually use this term as it is not grammatically correct.

What is yo tengo? ›

Tengo means I have. If we speak in grammatical terms, tengo is the conjugation of the verb tener (to have) in the present tense, in the first-person singular (that is, yo or I).

Does Spanish have dark L? ›

But English actually has two “L” sounds: the “dark L” and the “true L.” In Spanish, there is only the “True L.” A common tendency for English speakers is to use both as if they were speaking English.

Is Yo Tengo Grammatically correct? ›

But, grammatically, Yo tengo and tengo should be accepted as correct!

What does no Nadie mean? ›

Nadie is a pronoun that means nobody; anybody and you can find out how to pronounce it here: The usual translation for the word nadie is nobody: Nadie habló. Nobody spoke.

What are no Sabos? ›

Published March 21, 2022. Ruthy Villa | The Montclarion. According to Urban Dictionary, the term “no sabo” refers to Hispanic people that speak very limited to no Spanish.

Why is it le gusta and not se gusta? ›

Quick answer – we use 'le gusta' to talk about what other people (he / she / it) like and dislike. In English we'd say, 'he / she / it likes', but in Spanish we either say 'le gusta' or 'le gustan'. 'Se gusta' doesn't actually exist and, yep, that one letter really does make a big difference!

What does no más mean? ›

The expression no más is very widely used in the Spanish-speaking world for “no more” or “enough.”

How do you say no but not rude? ›

How to Say “No” for Any Reason at All!
  1. I wish I could make it work.
  2. I wish I were able to.
  3. I'd rather not.
  4. I'm afraid I can't.
  5. If only I could!
  6. No thanks, I won't be able to make it.
  7. Not this time.
  8. Unfortunately, it's not a good time.

What is the most common way to say stop in Spanish? ›

¡Para! Stop! ¡Que pares! (I've told you to) stop!

What does Bueno mean? ›

Spanish phrase. : good morning : hello.


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