How To Say 'No' In Spanish (Formal And Informal)

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How To Say 'No' In Spanish (Formal And Informal)

You can’t get far in Spanish without being able to say “no”.

It’s an essential word in Spanish.

Whether you’re telling the cashier that a receipt is not necessary or responding to a complex grammatical Spanish question, (and telling the profesora that you don’t know the answer) the word “no” will most likely feature somewhere in your answer!

Knowing how to say “no” in Spanish is crucial, even if you’re just a tourist in a Spanish speaking country.

Are you ready to learn how to say “no” in Spanish? Read on.

How do we say “no” in Spanish?

‘No’ in Spanish is no.

The Spanish word “no” is a cognate.

This means it’s linguistically derived from the same origin as the English word “no”, so it might not come as a surprise that the word “no” in Spanish is also “no”.

How do we pronounce the word “no” in Spanish?

In Spanish, we pronounce the word “no” in a shorter, sharper style when compared with the English version.

Whereas in English, we tend to elongate the pronunciation, it is pronounced “noh” in Spanish.

It has a short vowel sound which can be likened to the word “cot”.

Using “no” for negation

The reason why “no” is such a commonly used word in Spanish is partly because it is used in negation.

To put this another way, if you wanted to turn a statement into the negative form, stick a “no” in front of it.

For example, if someone asks you if you can swim, you might respond by saying:

Listen to audio

No puedo nadar.

I can’t swim.

If someone asks you whether you like to ride bikes and you never learned how, you might respond with a negated statement:

Listen to audio

No sé andar en bicicleta.

I don’t know how to ride a bike.

Or if you don’t know what to eat for lunch tomorrow, you might say:

Listen to audio

No sé qué comida debo comer mañana.

I don’t know what food I should eat tomorrow.

What are some common phrases in Spanish that feature the word “no?”

There are so many common phrases in Spanish that feature the word “no”.

You might find yourself using some of the examples that feature in the table below:

ESPAÑOLENGLISH
No graciasNo thanks
No pasa nadaNo problem
No entiendoI don’t understand
Por supuesto que noOf course not
Claro que noClearly not
No me digasDon’t even tell me that!

What are some colloquial ways to say “no” in Spanish?

In some situations, you might require a colloquial or slang phrase to say “no” in Spanish.

We’ve got the facts that you need for this as well!

Some of the most colloquial ways to say “no” in Spanish are listed below in the table.

ESPAÑOLENGLISH (equiv.)
Ni de bromaNo kidding
¡Qué va!No way
Ni hablarDon’t even talk about it
Nada de esoNone of that
NopNope

Examples of colloquial ways to say “no” in Spanish

If you’re unsure how to use the colloquial phrases for “no” in Spanish, here are examples of each of these being used in sentences:

1. Ni de broma

English meaning: no kidding

Listen to audio

¿Me puedes llevarme hasta la fiesta en Madrid?

Can you take me to the party in Madrid?
Listen to audio

Ni de broma, tengo que estudiar.

No way, I have to study.

2. ¡Qué va!

English meaning: no way

Listen to audio

¿Tu equipo de fútbol favorito es el Real Madrid?

Is your favourite football team Real Madrid?
Listen to audio

¡Qué va! A mí me gusta el Barça.

No way! I like Barcelona.

3. Ni hablar

English meaning: don’t speak

Listen to audio

¿Te gustan las arañas?

Do you like spiders?
Listen to audio

Ni hablar. ¡Tengo muchísimo miedo de las arañas!

No way. I’m very scared of spiders!

4. Nada de eso

English meaning: none of that

Listen to audio

¡Quiero un helado! ¿Me compras dos helados?

I want an ice cream! Can you buy me two ice creams?
Listen to audio

Nada de eso. Los helados tienen demasiado azúcar.

No way. Ice creams have too much sugar.

5. Nop

English meaning: nope

Listen to audio

¿Tienes dinero para salir esta noche?

Do you have money to go out tonight?
Listen to audio

Nop. No tengo ni un centavo.

Nope. I don’t even have a cent.

What are some formal ways to say “no” in Spanish?

In other circumstances, you might need a formal and polite way to decline something or say “no” in Spanish.

If that’s what you’ve looking for, take a quick look at the table just below to see some examples:

ESPAÑOLENGLISH
En absolutoAbsolutely not
De ninguna maneraNo way
Baja ninguna circunstanciaUnder no circumstances

Examples of formal ways to say “no” in Spanish

Now take a look at some examples of some sentences that feature the formal ways to say “no” in Spanish listed just below.

1. En absoluto

English meaning: absolutely not

Listen to audio

¿Estás siempre tan desorganizada?

Are you always so disorganized?
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En absoluto. Intento mantener las cosas en orden, siempre.

Absolutely not. I try to keep things in order, always.

2. De ninguna manera

English meaning: no way

Listen to audio

¿Vas a la reunión con los compañeros del trabajo?

Are you going to the meeting with your work colleagues?
Listen to audio

De ninguna manera. No es obligatorio.

No way. It’s not obligatory.

3. Bajo ninguna circunstancia

English meaning: under no circumstances

Listen to audio

Bajo ninguna circunstancia debes perderte la reunión.

Under no circumstances should you miss the meeting.
Listen to audio

No quería perderla. Quería hablar de algunas cosas.

I didn’t want to miss it. I wanted to speak about a few things.

Start learning the Spanish for “no” by speaking and listening

If you’re now wondering how you can best learn how to say “no” in Spanish, flashcards are a great help.

Begin by jotting down the Spanish word or phrase for “no” and then write the English literal translation on the other side to jog your memory.

The more you practice with your flashcards, the faster you’ll learn these phrases.

Follow this up with some real-life practice. Because, since this is an essential Spanish word, practice saying “no” in different ways to native Spanish speakers can help you learn and enhance your level of fluency.

Next up: See our guide on how to say yes in Spanish.


Are there any tips you’d add to help others learn how to say “no” in Spanish?

Write down your contribution and share it with us in the comments below!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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