no in French

Imagine you’re sitting at a café in Montmartre and your French friend asks you if you’d like to go for a walk. You don’t really feel like it and would rather relax, so you say “non”.

You did express what you wanted to express, but it sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it?

Now imagine what it would be like if you could say “not now”, “so so” or “not really”. You would sound much more natural, wouldn’t you?

That’s why after discovering 21 ways to say yes in French, you’ll now  discover 13 ways to say “no” in French.

The traditional “no”

This is the traditional way to say “no” in French. You can safely use it with anyone.

In some situations, answering “non” can come across as rude though. so you may want to say “non merci” instead.

Vous êtes Américain ?

Non, je suis Français.

Are you American?
No, I’m French.

That’ll be all

cafe

When you buy something at the bakery or order a meal at a restaurant, the waiter or seller is likely to ask you if you’d like something else.

If you do want something else, you simply need to say what it is you want. But what if you don’t want anything else?

In this case, you can answer “ça sera tout”.

Vous prendrez une boisson avec ça ?

Non merci, ça sera tout.

Will you take a drink with that?

No thanks, that’ll be all.

No way

Sometimes people ask you something so crazy you immediately know the answer is “no”. In this situation you can use:

  • Pas question (no way)
  • Hors de question (out of the question)
  • Absolument pas (absolutely not)
  • Oublie (forget it)

Est-ce que tu peux me prêter 2000 euros ?

Oublie !

Can you lend me 2,000 euros?

Forget it!

Never

If you want to say you’ll never do or never did something, you can use “jamais”.

T’as déjà été en Autriche ?

Non jamais.

Have you ever been to Austria?

No never.

i’m just looking

clothes shop

If you enter a French shop, the seller may ask you if you need help with anything. You can answer “je ne fais que regarder” (I’m just looking).

Bonjour monsieur, je peux vous aider ? 

Non merci, je ne fais que regarder.

Hello Sir, may I help you?

No thanks, I’m just looking around.

The impossible “no”

If someone asks you about something you know to be impossible or something you can’t do, you can say “impossible”.

Est-ce que tu peux  m’aider à déménager demain ?

Impossible, j’ai rendez-vous chez le docteur.

Can you help me move tomorrow?

Impossible! I have a doctor appointment.

Not yet

If you’re supposed to do something, but didn’t do it yet or know that a movie your friend wants to watch wasn’t released yet, you can use “pas encore”.

T’as vu le film dont je t’ai parlé ?

Pas encore.

Did you see the movie I talked to you about?

Not yet.

The contradictory “no”

If a friend tells you something negative you don’t believe in or if you simply want to make a person feel better, you can use “mais non”. This is the negative equivalent of “si“.

Je suis moche de toute façon.

Mais non, c’est pas vrai !

I’m ugly anyway.

No, that’s not true at all!

Not at all

If you don’t like something at all, you can use “pas du tout”.

Est-ce que vous aimez ce type de fleurs ?

Pas du tout !

Do you like this kind of flowers?

Not at all!

Not really

When someones asks you how you are doing in French, you don’t necessarily have to say “yes”. You can also say “pas vraiment” (not really).

You could also use it to say you don’t really feel like doing something.

Salut Antoine ! ça va ?

Pas vraiment.

Hi Antoine! Is everything ok?

Not really.

Later

If I ask you if you want a pizza right after you ate, you’re likely to say “non”. Not because, you hate pizza, but because you’re full and would rather eat later.

In this situation, you can use “pas maintenant” (not now) or even “plus tard'”(later).

ça te tente de manger une pizza ?

Pas maintenant.

Do you feel like eating a pizza?

Not now.

Unfortunately not

This is a way to say “non” companies love. They often use it to politely decline requests while pretending they really wished they could help you.

Est-ce que je peux obtenir un remboursement ?

Malheureusement pas.

Can I get a refund?

Unfortunately not.

The disappointed “no”

If you want to express your disappointment in French, you can use “oh non” (oh no).

Ton frère a raté son examen.

Oh non!

Your brother failed his exam.

Oh no!

What’s your favorite way to say “no” in French?

Do you have a favorite way to say “no” in French? Share it in the comments below!

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Published by Benjamin Houy

Bonjour ! Je suis Benjamin Houy, the creator of French Together and author of the Amazon bestseller How to Learn French in a Year. I help English speakers learn French naturally so they can quickly have their first conversation in French. I learned English and German on my own and am now learning Russian.