How to Say ‘No’ in Spanish: Formal and Informal Expressions
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.
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.
—Do you want it?
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.
—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.
4. Nel – Nah
This is a slang expression from Mexico City.
—¿Vamos al cine?
—Let’s go to the cinema?
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.
6. Por supuesto que no – Of course not
This is a stronger way to deny something. Imagine saying it with a slightly indignant tone.
—¡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?
—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.
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.
—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?
12. Ya quisiera – I wish
This is a lovely, colloquial, and indirect way to say “no” in Spanish.
—¿Dormiste la siesta?
—Did you take a nap?
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?
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.
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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.
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.
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!
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