I know what you are thinking….Everyone knows how to say “no” in Spanish. It was probably the first thing you learned when you started this journey. But not many people know how to deny something in different ways. So what about trying something a bit more native in your next denials?
Hola chicos y chicas
Here I am once again, and today I am here to talk to you about how to say “no.” I know, I know....you are probably thinking…come on Blanca, I am sure you can do better. Probably since the first day you started to be interested in the Spanish language, you learned how to say “no,” didn’t you? And likely among other things too, because it is quite straightforward.
Ok. Fair enough. But what about saying “no” in different ways? “No” is great, but sometimes it is just too plain. If I were to ask you to say “no” without using the typical “no,” would you be able to do it? If you would not be able to, you are about to find out, so keep reading! And if you do…great! But keep reading too, as you might learn something new.
Even though I am a positive person, I think you do need to say “no” sometimes. So since it is quite a used word, I think you might want to learn some different ways to say it.
Let’s start with the basic as a warm up.
It can be use in every situation, and if we want to emphasize, we can say it several times: No, no, no…as many times as you want.
Like when you are at a friend’s house and they ask you if you want something to eat, in Spain it is common to deny twice. Imagine your friend made a cake this week and she wants you to try, but the cake does not look that good…(or…you are not that hungry).
Friend: Hice un pastel el sábado, y todavía queda, ¿quieres probarlo? I made a cake on Saturday and there is some left, do you want to try?
You: No, no, gracias pero no tengo hambre. No, no thanks, I am not hungry.
This is quite a strong way to say no, but it’s informal and always has a nice note. Picture you are in a room with a lot of people, and it is quite warm. The conversation could go as follows:
You: ¿Os importa si abro la ventana? Hace bastante calor aquí… Would you mind if I open the window? It is quite warm in here…
People: ¡Qué va! Adelante, abréla! Not at all, go ahead, open it!
Note that sometimes we can use a variation, para nada. It means the same and it has a colloquial and nice tone too.
It is a strong negation, but friendly as well as. I mean….if you are meeting all your friends and talking with one by phone who says he is not going to the dinner because he has no money, you probably may say:
¡No, hombre no! ¡Cómo no vas a ir a la cena! ¡Te invito yo! No, man! How are you not going to go to the dinner! I will treat you! (Spaniards are that generous: anything so everyone joins the party)
It is a straight negation and quite abrupt if there is no relationship, so watch out who you use it with.
Your friend: ¿Has visto la última película de Almodóvar?! Es buenísima! Have you seen Almodovar’s last movie? It is so good!
You: ¡Qué dices! ¡Si es super aburrida! What are you talking about! It is so boring!
It is a familiar way of denial and with an authoritarian note. It is quite common to hear it from mums…Imagine when you were younger and you wanted to drive by yourself:
You: Mamá, ¿puedo usar el coche? Mum, can I use the car?
Your mum: ¡Ni hablar! No way!
¡Ni se te ocurra!
This is an informal way of denial and a bit authoritarian as well.
We all have been naughty at some point and have some naughty ideas. Maybe when you were talking to friends and thinking about how to do something, you came up with the “legal” or “normal” way to do things. That is when your friend who thinks you are able to do anything, will stop you by saying:
Sé lo que estás pensando, ¡ni se te ocurra! I know what you are thinking about, do not even think about it!
Note that sometimes we can use ni lo pienses as a variant of this one. It means exactly the same thing.
¡Ni lo sueñes!
This is informal, and it’s used when there is no way something is going to happen.
Imagine you just moved into your first flat and your friends are party animals. They probably want to have a super big party at yours to celebrate, and they probably want to go a bit far…
Your friends: !Qué bien! !ya tienes las llaves de tu nuevo piso! ¿Cuándo la fiesta para celebrarlo? ¿Podemos invitar a todos nuestros amigos del colegio, contratar un Dj, podría durar varios días… Amazing! You have the keys for your new flat already! When is the party? We could invite friends from school, pay a DJ, it might go on for days…
You: ¡Ni lo sueñes! Podemos tener una celebración pequeña, pero nada de Dj, y fiestas que duren días. Do not even think about it! We can have a small party, but nothing of DJs and parties that last for days…
¡Ni harto vino!
This is probably the most informal way to say no, and it is the same as the above situation when there is no way something is going to happen.
If your friends want to have a weekend out and do something crazy like bungee jumping (I think I always use bungee jumping as a “crazy example,” because for me it is…something pretty crazy and scary):
Your friends: ¿Qué os parece si hacemos algo diferente este fin de semana, algo loco…puenting? What do you think if we do something different this weekend, something crazy...bungee jumping? (Because it is quite usual that your friends ask you something like that, right? ;)
You: Vosotros haced lo que queráis, pero yo ¡ni borracho! You can do whatever you want, but no way I will do it!
Or you might want to use both number seven and number eight to make even clearer that this is not going to happen: a no-go!
You: ¡Ni lo sueñes! ¡Ni harto vino hago puenting! No way! There is no chance I will go bungee jumping!
Note that we can use ni borracho instead with the same meaning.
¡Por encima de mi cadáver! Or ¡ni muerto!
This is used when the chance of something happening is over your dead body
You might have had when you were a teenager a favourite pair of trainers that you loved. And even when they were falling apart, you loved them. But your mother kept telling you she was going to throw them away...you probably had this conversation over and over.
You: ¡Me encantan estas zapatillas! La única manera de que las tires es por encima de mi cadáver! I love these trainers! The only way you could throw them out is over my dead body!
Another version could be: no las voy a tirar ni mierto. I am not going to throw them,
even when I am dead.
¡Ni en pintura!
A funny sentence, it is usually used when we do not want to see someone because we can’t stand them. Sometimes it does not need to be that hard; it is maybe used because you had a small argument with a friend and you are still a bit annoyed, so you do not want to see them yet.
Someone you can’t stand: you are talking with a friend about your boss.
No quiero ir a trabajar mañana, no soporto a mi nueva jefa, no la quiero ver ni en pintura. I do not want to go tomorrow, I can’t stand my new boss. I don’t want to see her, not even in a picture.
Someone you had an argument with:
El otro día discutí con Javier, y no al momento no quiero verle ni en pintura, es muy cabezón. The other day I had an argument with Javier, and at the moment, I do not want to see him. He is so stubborn.
¡De ninguna manera!
Imagine you are still mad at Javier (from example above) because of your argument the other week. If he is having a party and you no quieres ver a Javier ni en pintura, you will probably say:
De ninguna manera voy a ir a la fiesta de Javier, todavía estoy enfadada. No way am I going to Javier’s party, I am still mad at him.
¡Ni de coña!
This is pretty much slang and really common among young people. It might sound angry, but it does not necessarily have to be. Indeed most of the time, it is just a strong negation in a friendly way.
Imagine a situation when your friend is talking about doing something you could do over the weekend, but you are not really up for it.
Friend: He escuchado que hay un festival de música country este fin de semana, podemos ir para haver algo diferente… I hear there is a country festival this weekend, we can go just to do something different…
You: ¡Ni de coña!No me gusta nada ese tipo de música. No chance, I do not like that kind of music at all.
Note that ni de broma does the same job
¡De eso nada!
This is quite a firm negation, and it usually comes from mums too. Like when you wanted to have a sleepover at a friend’s place so you could stay out late, but your mother knew your trick. That is why the conversation likely went like this:
You: Mamá, ¿puedo quedarme en casa de María este fin de semana? Mum, can I stay at Maria’s this weekend?
Mother: ¡De eso nada! Ya sé que sus padres no están en casa este fin de semana. No way!I know her parents are not at home this weekend.
To add a friendly note, sometimes we say de eso nada monada. But this still means no though.
And that is your denials cheat sheet! Make a note on your Spanish notebook and start using them today. They will surprise people.
Keep in mind that there is not much difference among them all except for the formal and the informal ones. Most of them are interchangeable.
Forget about the “no” for a few days and give these negations a go! Every time you want to say no in Spanish, try to use one of the denials above. Write a couple on your phone and have a look at them a few times a day.
Now it is your turn! As always, I would love to hear from you.
Have you heard them before?
Do you know any other way of saying “no”?
Which is the one you can’t wait to use?
I am looking forward to reading your comments! I’ll let you go now. Have a great day.