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”. You might say “no, thank you”, or “absolutely not!”
Similarly, if you want to become more fluent in Spanish, you’ll want to know how to say no in a variety of situations, from formal to colloquial. That’s why we made this comprehensive list of how to say “no” in Spanish in many different settings.
We also go over a number of quick examples related to negation in Spanish.
You might also be interested in
- Spanish Negation: Complete Guide to Using Spanish Negative Words
- Our guide for how to learn Spanish using online resources
- 100 Must-Know Basic Spanish Words For Beginners (with Audio)
- 26 Useful Ways to Yes in Spanish
No in Spanish at a Glance
Below is a summary of the phrases below.
No, thank you
I’d love to, but I can’t
Sounds good, but no
Not at all
Maybe next time
No, I don’t have that
Don't even think about it
It can't be
In you dreams
Saying No in Spanish Politely
Turning someone down can be a tricky subject. Sometimes saying just “no” can seem harsh, even rude. Luckily, there are a lot of ways of saying no in Spanish in a softer, more polite way. Here you’ll find a few suggestions.
This is the standard way of saying “no” when offered something. It’s also the most polite option. No, gracias means “No, thank you” in Spanish, and it’s used in the same way as in English. Let’s see an example:
- ¿Quieres ir a la playa mañana?
- No, gracias. No me siento bien, debería descansar.
- Do you want to go to the beach tomorrow?
- No, thank you. I don’t feel well, I should rest.
Me encantaría, pero no puedo
The literal translation of this phrase is “I’d love to, but I can’t”. Me encantaría, pero no puedo is a nice way of saying no, because you make clear that, in another context, you’ll say yes… Just not this particular time. Let’s see an example:
- ¿Quieres venir a la playa mañana por la mañana?
- Me encantaría, pero no puedo. Tengo trabajo.
- Would you like to go to the beach tomorrow morning?
- I’d love to, but I can’t. I’ve got work.
Suena bien, pero no
In English, this phrase would be “Sounds good, but no”. Suena bien, pero no is nicer than saying just “no”; after all, you’re acknowledging that the plan is not bad at all. It could be worse, right? Let’s see it in action:
- ¡Vamos al cumpleaños de Alejandro!
- Suena bien, pero no. No estoy de ánimo para una fiesta.
- Let’s go to Alejandro’s birthday!
- Sounds good, but no. I’m not in a mood for a party.
No, lo siento
In Spanish, there are a lot of ways of saying “Sorry”. You have Disculpas, but also Lo siento, and Lo lamento. It’s easy to understand why your denial seems softer if you throw in an apology. No, lo siento allows you to do just that. In English, it would be like saying “No, I’m sorry”. And that’s polite enough.
- ¿Tienes un encendedor?
- No, lo siento.
- Do you have a light?
- No, sorry.
No, lo lamento
This expression is very similar to No, lo siento. You just have to change your apology; instead of saying Lo siento, you say Lo lamento. The translation stays the same: No, lo lamento is like saying “No, I’m sorry” in English. In a conversation, it works like this:
- ¿Sabes dónde queda la calle Bolívar?
- No, lo lamento.
- Do you know where I can find Bolívar street?
- No, sorry.
Saying No in Spanish Casually
If you want to know how to say no in Spanish, you surely want to know how to say it in a more casual setting. For example, if you are with friends or family, you may want to speak a bit more comfortably.
Every Spanish dialect has its own regional expressions for saying no, so the best way to learn is to listen to people around you and see what they say. Here are a few common colloquial expressions you may hear in the wild.
Para nada is a very common negative phrase. It means something like “not at all”, and it’s a little bit more friendly and lighter than other phrases… depending on your tone, of course. This is how it looks in a conversation:
- ¿Estás pensando en renunciar?
- Para nada. Estoy muy contento con mi trabajo.
- Are you thinking about quitting?
- Not at all. I’m very happy with my job
Quizás la próxima
Quizás la próxima means “ Quizás la próxima ”. This is a very easy way of saying no to an invitation. If you want, you can make it shorter, and just say La próxima; to make it even more informal. It is a nice way of letting someone down gently.
- ¿Quieres almorzar mañana?
- No puedo. ¡Quizás la próxima!
- Do you want to have lunch tomorrow?
- I can’t. Maybe next time!
No, mil disculpas
No, mil disculpas is a way of saying “No, I’m sorry” or “No, apologies”. Mil disculpas is an informal way of saying apologies.
- ¿Me prestas tu coche?
- No, mil disculpas. Está en el taller.
- Can I borrow your car?
- No, I’m sorry. It ‘s in the shop.
Te la debo
Te la debo is a little difficult to directly translate to English. It literally means “I owe you”, but its acutal meaning is “No, I don’t have that” or “No, I’m sorry, I can’t help you now”. Let’s take a look at an example.
- ¿Tienes hora?
- Te la debo.
- Do you have the time?
- Sorry, I don’t
Saying No in Spanish Emphatically
There are times a timid “no” isn’t quite enough. Sometimes you really need to be very firm and definitive about turning down an invitation or respond to a question passionately. Here are some useful ways to get your message across.
De ninguna manera
¡De ninguna manera! is more emphatic than No, gracias. It means, almost literally, “No way!” or “Absolutely not!”.
You can use this phrase if you want to express that you’re absolutely against something, or to refuse a proposition that makes no sense to you.
A conversation using de ninguna manera could look like this:
- ¿Te gustaría escalar el Everest?
- ¡De ninguna manera! Me dan miedo las alturas.
- Would you like to climb Mount Everest?
- No way! I’m scared of heights
Ni se te ocurra
Maybe someone is venturing into something dangerous, impossible or just wild. Maybe someone is making a very strange proposition. That’s when you want to use Ni se te ocurra , a very imposing way of saying “no” in Spanish. It could be translated as “Don’t even think about it”, and it’s used like this:
- Podríamos vender la casa…
- ¡Ni se te ocurra! Mi abuelo construyó esta casa con sus propias manos
- We could sell the house…
- Don’t even think about it! My grandfather built this house with his bare hands.
You can also add a verb to the end of the phrase. For example “¡Ni se te occura volver a hacer eso!” is a common way of saying “Don’t even think about doing that again!”
Jamás is another very helpful negative adverb. It means “never”. Jamás is not as common as nunca (which also means never), and has a more dramatic flair. There is a saying that goes says Jamás de los jamases, which is the most emphatic way of saying no in Spanish – basically meaning never EVER!
Let’s see jamás in an example:
- ¿Viajarías al espacio?
- ¡Jamás! Ni siquiera me gustan los aviones.
- Would you travel to space?
- Never! I don’t even like planes.
Ni lo sueñes
This one is quite similar to Ni se te ocurra; but here, instead of talking about thoughts, we’re talking about dreams. Because that’s what Ni lo sueñes means: “Don’t even dream about it”. Some people translate it as the English expression “In your dreams!”, but that’s not entirely accurate.
You see: Ni lo sueñes is an imperative sentence, an order, so it works a little bit differently. When you say “In your dreams!”, you’re saying that something that the other person is saying can only happen in their dreams.
But when you say Ni lo sueñes, you’re commanding the other person to completely forget about the issue; they’re not even allowed to dream about it. Let’s see how you could use this expression in a conversation:
- ¿Y si nos vestimos como Barman y Robin para mi fiesta de disfraces?
- Ni lo sueñes. Me vería ridículo.
- What if we dress as Batman and Robin for my costume party?
- Don’t even dream about it! I would look ridiculous.
Saying No in Spanish to Express Surprise
No puede ser
This expression is used to express surprise or bewilderment. In life, we often hear things that border the impossible; unexpected, implausible things. That’s when you can use No puede ser , which means “It can’t be” or “No way”. Here you can see this phrase in an example:
- Martín se mudó a Hungría
- ¡No puede ser! Lo vi la semana pasada en el supermercado y no dijo nada
- Martín moved to Hungary.
- No way! I saw him last week at the supermarket and he didn’t say a thing.
Using Negative Words
In Spanish, as in English, there are a few negative words. Their function is to express negation in some sense; many of them are adverbs.
Because they’re functional words, their meaning is very dependent on Spanish grammar — in some cases, that makes them difficult to translate. Here is a quick list of Spanish negating words.
|Spanish||English||Example Sentence (Sp)||Example Sentence (Eng)|
|Nunca||Never||Nunca comes verduras.||You never eat vegetables.|
|Nada||Nothing||No tengo nada que decirte.||I have nothing to tell you.|
|Nadie||Nobody||Nadie sabe.||Nobody knows.|
|Ninguno||None||Ninguno de estos me sirve.||None of these suits me.|
|Ni||Nor||No tengo tiempo ni dinero.||I have neither time nor money|
|Tampoco||Either||A mí tampoco me gusta.||I don’t like it either.|
Side note — No tengo tinero? More like no tengo la plata. Or even la pasta! See here for other words in Spanish for “money”.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways of saying “no” in Spanish. You can go for the polite no, gracias or for the imposing ni se te ocurra; you can use a kind para nada or the sharp jamás de los jamases. That’s one of the great things of using a language: that is up to you! You can find your own style.
Now, thanks to this list, you have the resources to say no in many different ways and increase your Spanish fluency. With a little bit of practice, you’ll sound very convincing when you just say no!