13 Ways to Say No in Chinese Like a Native Speaker

It can be hard to say no to people, but sometimes we have to do so. Do you know how to say “no” in Chinese? Well, the Chinese word for “no” is “不(bù)”, but we don’t usually say “不(bù)” directly when we refuse others. There are many ways to turn down someone’s offer or invitation in Chinese. What the video lesson or read this article and learn 13 ways  to say no in Chinese directly or indirectly, which help you to sound more fluent and more like a native speaker.

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How to Say No in Chinese Directly

1. 不行/不可以(bù xíng/bù kěyǐ)

“行(xíng)” and “可以(kěyǐ)” can be used to say yes in Chinese. “不行(bù xíng)” and “不可以(bù kěyǐ)” are negative forms of “行(xíng)” and “可以(kěyǐ)”. They are both very clear and direct ways to say no in mandarin.

For example:

A: 妈妈,我现在可以出去玩吗?

Māma, wǒ xiànzài kěyǐ chūqu wán ma?

Mom, can I go play outside now?  

B: 不行。做完作业再出去。

Bù xíng. Zuò wán zuòyè zài chūqu.

Nope. Finish your homework first.


A: 妈妈,我可以看一会儿电视吗?

Māma, wǒ kěyǐ kàn yíhuìr diànshì ma?

Mom, can I watch TV for a while?

B: 不可以。你该睡觉了。

Bù kěyǐ. Nǐ gāi shuìjiào le.

No. You should go to bed.

2. 不要(bú yào)

不要(bú yào) is another way to say no to others. It means “I don’t want (to)”. People use it to dissuade others and to show that they don’t need it or don’t want it. This phrase is usually used by children or young girls to turn down people as it sounds a little like a spoiled child.

Examples:

A: 宝贝,来吃点蔬菜。

Bǎo bèi, lái chī diǎn shū cài.

Honey, have some vegetables.

B: 不要,我不喜欢吃。

Bú yào, wǒ bù xǐ huan chī.

No, I don’t like them.

3. 你为什么不(nǐ wèishénme bù)…/你怎么不(nǐ zěnme bù)…

When someone asks you to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, you can refuse with a rhetorical question – 你为什么不(nǐ wèishénme bù)/你怎么不(nǐ zěnme bù)+ (do something)? When you refuse people in this way, it shows you are already a bit angry as you are asked to do what the other person doesn’t want to do.

For example:

A: 今天妈妈不在家, 中午你做饭吧!

Jīntiān māma bú zài jiā, zhōngwǔ nǐ zuò fàn ba!

Mom is not at home. Why don’t you make lunch?  

B: 你为什么不做?

Nǐ wèishénme bú zuò?

Why don’t you do it?

4. 没门儿(méi ménr)

门(mén) means door, and 没门(méi mén) literally translates to “no door”. When you say “没门(méi mén)” or “没门(méi ménr)” to someone, you are saying that it is impossible for you to comply with their request.

For example:

A: 邓邓,借我点钱吧!

Dèng deng, jiè wǒ diǎn qián ba!

Dengdeng, can you lend me some money?

B: 没门儿。

Méi ménr.

No way.

5. 你想得美(nǐ xiǎng de měi)

想(xiǎng) means to think and 美(měi) means beautiful. “你想得美(nǐ xiǎng de měi)” can be interpreted as “You are thinking wishfully”. In spoken Chinese, it is used to tell someone that what they want to happen will definitely not happen.

For example:

A: 邓邓,你手机挺好看的,送我一个呗!

Dèng deng, nǐ shǒujī tǐng hǎokàn de, sòng wǒ yí ge bei!

Dengdeng, your cell phone is really nice. Can you give me one? 

B: 你想得美。

Nǐ xiǎng de měi.

You wish.

6. 你想太多了(nǐ xiǎng tài duō le)

你想太多了(nǐ xiǎng tài duō le) and 你想得美(nǐ xiǎng de měi) have similar meanings. 太多(tài duō) means too much, and 你想太多了(nǐ xiǎng tài duō le) means you are thinking too much. We also say 你想多了(nǐ xiǎng duō le) in daily life.

Examples:

A: 邓邓,今天你买单呗!

Dèng deng, Jīntiān nǐ mǎi dān bei!

Dengdeng, how about you pay the bill?

B: 你想太多了,我是不可能帮你买单的。

Nǐ xiǎng tài duō le, wǒ shì bù kěnéng bāng nǐ mǎi dān de.

You are thinking too much. It’s impossible that I pay for it.

7. 你想都别想(nǐ xiǎng dōu bié xiǎng)

你想都别想(nǐ xiǎng dōu bié xiǎng) is another way of saying no in spoken Chinese. It is equivalent to “don’t even think about it” in English.

For example:

A: 邓邓,听说你买新车了,借我开一下吧!

Dèng deng, tīng shuō nǐ mǎi xīn chē le, jiè wǒ kāi yíxià ba!

Dengdeng, I heard you bought a new car, so can I borrow it?

B: 你想都别想。

Nǐ xiǎng dōu bié xiǎng.

Not a chance.

8. 你做梦吧(nǐ zuò mèng ba)

To emphasize that something is absolutely impossible, we can say “你做梦吧(nǐ zuò mèng ba)” in Chinese. If you often watch Chinese TV series, you would definitely hear this conversation:

A: 快把你们的秘密告诉我,不然我就弄死你。

Kuài bǎ nǐmen de mìmì gào sù wǒ, bù rán wǒ jiù nòng sǐ nǐ .

Tell me your secrets right now, otherwise I will kill you. 

B: 哼,你做梦!

Hèng, nǐ zuò mèng!

Humph, over my dead body!

Sometimes friends also say no in this way. Similar expressions include “做梦去吧(zuò mèng qù ba)” , “做梦呢(zuò mèng ne)”, etc.

A: 邓邓,帮我写下作业呗。

Dèng deng, bāng wǒ xiě xià zuòyè bei.

Dengdeng, can you do my homework for me?

B: 你做梦吧。

Nǐ zuò mèng ba.

In your dreams.

9. 滚(gǔn)

We don’t usually say “滚(gǔn)” to people because it’s a bit rude. But sometimes we can refuse by saying it to our close friends with a witty tone.

For example:

A: 邓邓,我肩膀疼,帮我按一下肩膀吧。

Dèng deng, wǒ jiānbǎng téng, bāng wǒ àn yíxià jiānbǎng ba.

Dengdeng, my shoulders are stiff. Can you massage my shoulders?

B: 滚。

Gǔn.

Go away.

Please note that these direct ways of saying no can only be used for people who are very close to you, for example, good friends, siblings or couples. When you use these expressions, you should be careful not to be too blunt. In addition, we don’t use these phrases to refuse elders, strangers or regular friends.

If you can’t remember them for a while, you can download the free PDF at the bottom of the page and take your time to learn how to say no in Chinese.

How to Say No in Mandarin Indirectly

Now let’s talk about indirect ways of saying no in Chinese. Generally speaking, when we reject someone, we tend to use some polite words to make them feel better.

10. 恐怕不行(kǒngpà bù xíng)/可能不行(kěnéng bù xíng)

恐怕不行(kǒngpà bù xíng) or 可能不行(kěnéng bù xíng) can be used to say no to people politely. We usually add the reason for your refusal later.

Example:

A: 邓邓,明天晚上我们一起吃饭吧。

Dèngdeng, míngtiān wǎnshang wǒmen yìqǐ chīfàn ba.

Dengdeng, let’s have dinner together tomorrow night.

B: 可能不行,我明天有事。

Kěnéng bù xíng, wǒ míngtiān yǒu shì.

I’m afraid I’m not available tomorrow.


A: 邓邓,明天我们去逛街吧!

Dèng deng, míngtiān wǒmen qù guàngjiē ba!

Dengdeng, let’s go shopping tomorrow!

B: 恐怕不行,明天我妈过生日。

Kǒngpà bù xíng, míngtiān wǒ mā guò shēngrì .

I’m afraid not. It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow.

11. 对不起(duì bu qǐ)/抱歉(bào qiàn)/不好意思(bù hǎo yì si)

To reject someone, we can apologize first by saying “对不起(duì bu qǐ)”, “抱歉(bào qiàn,)” or “不好意思(bù hǎo yì si)”, and then explain the reason.

For example:

A: 邓邓,你可以把电脑借我用一下吗?

Dèngdeng, nǐ kě yǐ bǎ diàn nǎo jiè wǒ yòng yí xià ma?

Dengdeng, can I borrow your computer?

B: 不好意思,我现在正用着呢。

Bù hǎo yì si, wǒ xiàn zài zhèng yòng zhe ne.

Sorry, I am using it now.


A: 邓邓,你可以帮我打印一下这个文件吗?

Dèng deng, nǐ kě yǐ bāng wǒ dǎ yìn yí xià zhè ge wén jiàn ma?

Dengdeng, can you print this file for me?

B: 抱歉,我现在没空。

Bào qiàn, wǒ xiàn zài méi kòng.

Sorry, I am not available right now.

12. 不用了,谢谢(bú yòng le, xiè xie)

This expression is usually used to refuse someone who offers to help you. You can also say “谢谢,你的好意我心领了(xiè xie, nǐ de hǎo yì wǒ xīn lǐng le)”.

A: 外面下雨了,我送你回去吧。

Wàimiàn xiàyǔ le , wǒ sòng nǐ huíqu ba.

It’s raining outside. Let me drive you home.

B: 不用了,谢谢。

Bú yòng le, xièxie.

No, thanks.


A: 邓邓,你就收下吧。

Dèng deng, nǐ jiù shōu xià ba.

Dengdeng, please take it.

B: 谢谢,你的好意我心领了。这个太贵重了,我不能收。

Xièxie, nǐ de hǎoyì wǒ xīnlǐng le.  Zhè ge tài guìzhòng le, wǒ bù néng shōu.

Thanks, I appreciate your good intentions but this is too precious and I can’t accept it.

13. 我再考虑考虑(wǒ zài kǎolǜ kǎolǜ)

We often use “我再考虑考虑(wǒ zài kǎolǜ kǎolǜ- let me think about it)” to reject other people’s sales or suggestions implicitly. You can also use “我再考虑一下(wǒ zài kǎolǜ yí xià)”, “我再想想(wǒ zài xiǎngxiang)”, “算了吧(suàn le ba)” or “再说吧(zài shuō ba, )” to reject people politely.

For example:

A: 这件衣服特别适合您,我给您包起来吧。

Zhè jiàn yīfu tèbié shìhé nín, wǒ gěi nín bāo qǐlai ba.

This dress really suits you. Would you like me to wrap it for you?

B: 我再考虑考虑。

Wǒ zài kǎolǜ kǎolǜ.

Let me think about it.


A: 今天办会员,充¥2000送¥200,办一个吧!

Jīntiān bàn huìyuán, chōng 2000 sòng 200, bàn yí ge ba!

If you apply for a membership card today, you can get ¥ 200 for the top-up of 2000. Why not apply for one? 

B: 我再想想。

Wǒ zài xiǎng xiang.

I’ll think about it.


A: 吃完晚饭后,我们去看个电影吧!

Chī wán wǎnfàn hòu, wǒmen qù kàn ge diànyǐng ba!

Let’s go watch a movie after dinner! 

B: 还是算了吧,我想早点回家。

Háishì suàn le ba, wǒ xiǎng zǎo diǎn huíjiā.

Forget it. I want to get back early.

Conclusion

Now you’ve read our list of 13 ways to say no in Chinese. Have you learned how to reject others in Chinese? You can download the MP3 and PDF of this Chinese lesson for on-the-go learning. Don’t forget to take the quiz on this lesson! If you know other expressions to say no in Chinese, please share with us in the comment section below.

Quiz


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