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Ways to Say No and More


What part of “no” don’t you understand?

This has been a popular saying in the United States, stemming from the movement to protest violence against women. If someone is asking you to do something that you do not want to do or if you feel uncomfortable “just say no.” You do not have to offer an explanation. It is better to hurt someone’s feelings than to put yourself in a compromising situation!

Ways to say no for the moment, “buying time”

I’ll take a rain-check on that.
Let me get back to you.
Maybe next time.
Not this time.
Let me think about it.
We’ll talk later. 
Let me check with my roommate/my calendar…

Ways to end a debate or argument, especially if it is becoming uncomfortable:

Let’s agree to disagree.
Let’s take a timeout.
Can we talk about it later?
We’re not really getting anywhere…

Other ways to say “No”:

Thanks anyway. I don’t want to.
I’m not interested. Nope.
No way. (slang) That’s not necessary.
No thank you. I really don’t want to.
I don’t feel like it. I don’t think I can make it.
That’s not good for me. That doesn’t work for me.
Absolutely not (strong phrase) Forget about it! (strong, informal)

Nonverbal Way to Say No Move head horizontally side to side usually just once each way is sufficient

Phrases U.S. Americans often use without expecting a “real” answer:

How are you?
How’s your family?
Let’s have lunch.
I’ll call you.
What’s going on?
What’s happening?
How’s it hanging?

Nancy E. Young, Office for International Students and Scholars, New York University

Last Updated: 8/28/14