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How to say no in French and alternative expressions

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Most of you certainly know that no in French is translated as Non. But did you know there are way more words and expressions to say no in French just as nope, not at all, never, and not yet, in the English language?

Let's see how to say no in French and alternative expressions.

How to say no in French: ways to avoid saying the classical non

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1. Non, the classic No

When someone asks how to say no in French, the first word that comes to mind is its immediate translation"Non".

2.Non, merci = No, thank you

Non is a 3 letters word and is really easy to be said. However, it can be a little too direct and sometimes, rude to reply with non.

That's why, it is sometimes good to say Non, followed by Merci, like in Non, merci (no, thank you).


- Je te sers du jus? => I serve you some juice?

- Non, merci!=> No, thank you

3. Pas du tout = Not at all

Not at all is a variant that can be used to express politely something you don't like as in the example below.


- Je te derange? => Am I disturbing?

- Pas du tout. => Not at all.

Sometimes, everything is about the tone you put on when speaking. Pas du tout can also be used to express a higher degree of negation.


- Je n'aime pas du tout le poisson => I don't like fish at all.

4. Pas encore = Not yet

Instead of saying a simple no, you can use pas encore when you haven't done something yet. You can see that using the word encore softens your no and tells that you still intend to do it, but just not yet.


- Tu as fait ton devoir d'anglais? => Did you do your English homework?

- Pas encore, je faisais d'abord ma lecture du jour. => Not yet, I was doing my daily reading first.

5. Pas question, Hors de question = No way

Pas question will be the perfect phrase to use when you think something is a no-go, a simple no-way. Another great alternative to pas question is Hors de question, literally translated as out of question.


- Je peux emprunter ta voiture pour le week-end? Can I borrow your car for the weekend?

- Pas question. Tu sais à peine conduire. => No way. You barely know how to drive.

You can also use Non et non ! and absolument pas in the same context when you mean absolutely not.

6. Nan = nope

Nan is an informal way of saying No in French. The pronunciation of nan and non (nasal sounds) are very similar, and you really need to pay attention to know which word has been used. You will most likely hear young children saying nan, instead of saying Non.


- Tu viens jouer avec nous? => Are you coming to play with us?

- Nan, j'suis crevé. Nope, => I am too tired.

7. Impossible / Ce n'est pas possible = not possible

Just like in English, the French word impossible conveys the meaning of something not possible at all. You can also use Ce n'est pas possible. However, when speaking, French people tend to skip the "ne" and directly say c'est pas possible.


- On prend un verre après le boulot? => We have a drink after work?

- Impossible, on a une réunion de famille. => Impossible, I have a family gathering.

8. Malheureusement pas = unfortunately not

When you want to say no but regret to be declining the offer or just to be saying no, a good alternative phrase is "malheureusement pas".


- Tu dînes avec nous demain soir? => Are you dinning with us tomorrow evening?

- Désolée, je ne peux malheureusement pas. J'ai déjà quelque chose de prévu. => Sorry, unfortunately I can't. I already have plans.

9. Non = really?

This kind of non with an exclamative tone is to signify astonishment.


- Notre société a remporté le prix de la meilleure entreprise écologique. => Our company won the prize of the best ecologic enterprise.

- Non! Ah bon? => Really?

10. Jamais = Never

If you mean something you have never done, jamais will be the suitable word. It can be used alone or with the negation word "ne".


- Aline et toi vous vous voyez souvent à Paris? => Do Aline and you meet often in Paris?

- Jamais. (you can also say "On ne se voit jamais"). => Never.

11. Non, ce sera tout = No, that will be all

If you are in a restaurant or a shop in France, this phrase will be of great value to you. When you will be asked if you want anything else, just say non, ce sera tout to signify no, that will be all.


Vous prenez autre chose? => Are you taking something else?

Non, ce sera tout. => No, that will be all.

12. Oh non = oh non

Used to express disappointment, oh non is very close to its English counterpart oh no.


- Notre vol vient d’être annulé. => Our flight just got cancelled.

- Oh non ! Moi qui me voyait déjà en vacances. => oh no ! I was already seing myself in vacation.

13. Peut-être plus tard = maybe later

Peut-être plus tard is another soft way to say no. It may be used for delaying something, or just as an indirect way to say no, without risking obfuscating the person.


- On regarde un film ensemble? => We watch a movie together?

- Peut-être plus tard, je dois finir ce travail => May be later, I have this job to finish.

14. Niet = strictly "no"

Niet is a colloquial French word inherited from the Russian language. It is a bit old-fashioned but can still be used to say no in a categorical way. It reminds me of my late father who would use this word to object to our outing plans when I was younger.


- Alors, tu as la réponse de ton boss? => Do your have your

- Oui, mais c'est malheureusement un niet. => Yes, It's a unfortunately a No.


I hope this helped you learn more ways to say no in French. Now, watch out for your words when speaking. Every time, you would like to say no in French, think about alternatives to the classical "non". To learn more words, head to our free French vocabulary page.


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