Several ways to say no in Japanese

In Japan, saying it can't be complicated. The Japanese rarely use the word no directly to refuse or deny something to someone. They prefer to give an indirect answer instead of refusing with a simple no. The Japanese value harmony at all costs, which makes it difficult to use certain words. In this article, we’ll look at several ways not In japanese.

Most should know that the main word used to say not, It's iie (いいえ). There is also the word nai (ない) that is usually added at the end of verbs as negative. These are common words that are often used, but the Japanese do not usually deny or refuse things using those words.


Some Japanese in the difficulty of answering some questions end up using the expression chotto (ちょっと) which means something like “wait a little” or “a moment”. Some already understand it as a way of trying to say no, especially if it is about questions like: Do you want to go somewhere tomorrow? What do you think of doing something?

Several ways to say no in Japanese

In other words, if someone says that they will think about the subject or things like that, possibly he wanted to say no but he is ashamed. Expressions like kento sasete kudasai (I will consider) or kangaeteokimasu (I will think) can be vital words.


Even when denying a request, the Japanese use yes to say no. Example: How would you answer the question: Can't you come today? Some would respond - No i can't. The Japanese would respond yes i can't.

Ways to say no in Japanese

Other alternatives to saying no directly are:

  • Dame (ダメ) - It is not good, it cannot, wrong, prohibited;
  • Dekinai (出来ない) - I can't, I can't (do);
  • Muri (無理) - Impossible, irrational, unjustifiable;

The words below are not necessarily denials, but can be used to deny or refuse requests as a no:

  • Chigau (違う) - Different, it is not that, differ;
  • Kekkou desu (結構です) - No thanks;
  • Kibishii (厳しい) - Difficult, rigorous, intense (conditions);
  • Ikemasen (行けません) - I can't (go);
  • Taihen (大変) - very difficult, terribly, immense, serious, problem;
  • Iya (嫌) unpleasant, reluctant;
  • Moushiwakenai (申し訳ない) I'm sorry, I'm sorry;
  • Bimyou (微妙) - difficult, delicate, complicated situation;
  • Isogashii (忙しい) - Very busy;

There is also the confusing uun (ううん). This expression can be used to say no or deny something, but at the same time, depending on the way you speak, the uun it can be a yes or confirmation of something.

Several ways to say no in Japanese
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Saying no the right way

If someone invites you to do something you can easily use the expressions isogashii, ikemasen or dekinai. If someone asks or suggests something embarrassing or impossible you can answer muri, lady, kekkou desu and taihen. Just see the essence and meaning of the word to know how to use it correctly.

Some of these words will only make sense if you use them in context or sentence. Remember to always use expressions like excuses (ごめんなさい) and thanks (ありがとう) on several occasions for refusing anything. You can quote something positive about the order and use a “but” (だけど).

The word dekinai which means cannot, usually shows the speaker's regret because the circumstances did not allow the opposite. Words like Moushiwakenai and Isogashii they are formal and are often used at work. If you are really busy, the person will hardly invite you to another day or something.

Those were some of the ways to deny and say no in Japanese without using the word. I hope you enjoyed this short article. We appreciate the shares and comments. We also recommend reading: