How to Say no in Italian: 15 Different Ways

Summary

Master the art of saying “no” in Italian with finesse! From polite refusals to informal brush-offs, this guide covers a variety of expressions to decline offers while sounding like a native. 🇮🇹✨

  • Polite Declines: A simple “no, grazie” goes a long way in Italian. It’s the bread and butter of saying no – use it to keep things classy and respectful. 🍞🧈
  • Doubtful No: Not sure about something? “Non penso” or “Non credo” are your go-to phrases to express uncertainty without shutting down the conversation. 🤔
  • Surprised No: When something is unbelievable, drop a “Non è possibile” to express your shock. It’s like saying “No way!” but with an Italian flair. 😲
  • Regretful No: Need to express regret? “Temo di no” is your phrase. It’s like saying “I’m afraid not” with a touch of Italian empathy. 💔
  • Hopeful No: Want to decline but keep the door open? “Magari” is a versatile word that can mean “I wish” or “maybe next time.” It’s the perfect non-committal no. 🚪
  • Formal No: If you need to be extra polite, “La ringrazio, ma devo rifiutare” shows gratitude while declining. It’s like a bow in word form. 🎩
  • Informal No: With friends, “Macché” is a casual way to say no. It’s the Italian equivalent of “As if!” – use it to keep things light-hearted. 😄
  • Emphatic No: For a strong refusal, “Non ci penso proprio” or “Neanche per sogno” will make your no crystal clear. It’s like slamming the door on the idea. 🔒
  • When No Means Yes: Confusing, right? But “Come no” actually means “Of course!” in Italian. Language is weird, embrace it! 🔄

My thoughts

Different Ways to Say no in Italian

Even in Italian, it can be difficult to say no at times, after learning how to say yes, you can learn how to say no in Italian.

As mentioned, to say no in Italian, simply say “no, grazie” (no, thank you) to answer negatively but respectfully.

But there are also various Italian alternatives. Let’s see how to use Italian phrases like non penso/non credomacché, or neanche per sogno!

Common ways to say no in Italian

Non penso/ Non credo

These two Italian expressions are mostly used to show doubts or concern about a condition or what could happen.

For example:

Sai se il supermercato è ancora aperto? Non penso/Non credo.

Do you know if the supermarket is still open? – I don’t think so/I don’t believe so.

Mi sa di no

Use  “mi sa di nowhen you’re not sure about the answer, but you think it will be a negative one.

Example:

Sai se Claudia è andata a comprare il latte? Mi sa di no!

Do you know if Claudia went to buy milk? No, I don’t believe so!

Ne dubito (proprio)

When you wish to express doubt or the sensation that something is about to happen or did not happen in Italian, you can use one of these expressions.

Example:

Pensi che Marco uscirà di nuovo con noi dopo quello che è successo? Ne dubito (proprio).

Do you think Marco will go out with us again after what happened? – I (really) doubt it!

Non è possibile

Use this phrase if you want to express surprise, sorrow, or disappointment for anything that happened to you or someone else.

For example,

Hai saputo che Michele ieri si è licenziato? Non è possibile! Seriamente?

Did you know that Michele yesterday quit his job? No way! Seriously?

Temo di no

Use “Temo di no” if you want to express regret for something you’re not responsible for.

Example:

Hai ricevuto l’invito per il matrimonio di Sara? Temo di no!

Did you receive the invitation to Sara’s wedding? I’m afraid not!

Magari

This Italian phrase is commonly used when you want to express hope or a wish for something that will or will not happen.

Example:

Andrai in vacanza quest’estate? Magari! Ma non ho un soldo!

Will you go on Holiday this summer? I wish! But I don’t have any money!

How to say no in Italian: formal expressions

La ringrazio, ma devo rifiutare

This quite respectful phrase can be used to address someone you don’t know well and who is likely older than you.

In this scenario, you’re expressing gratitude for what they’re offering you, but you’re “forced” to decline the offer due to unique circumstances.

Example:

Le andrebbe di giocare a scacchi? La ringrazio ma devo rifiutare. Sono in ritardo.

Would you like to play chess? Thank you, but I must say no. I’m late.

Sarà per la prossima volta

To avoid looking impolite, you can use good manners to decline whatever they are offering you, postponing it until the next time you see each other.

For example:

Ti andrebbe di cenare insieme? Oggi non riesco, sarà per la prossima volta.

Would you like to have dinner together? I can’t help today. Maybe next time.

Grazie, come se avessi accettato

This is an extremely polite way to say no in Italian when you want to decline something offered to you by someone you hardly know.

For example:

Prende un caffè? Grazie, come se avessi accettato!

Would you like a coffee?  Thanks, pretend I have accepted!

How to say no in Italian: informal expressions

Macché

One of the most well-known Italian idioms for saying no, you can use it to express a deep sense of frustration.

Hai finito di studiare Italiano? Macché! Ho appena cominciato!

Have you finished studying Italian? As if! I just started!

Non ci penso proprio

In this case, your goal is to point out that you aren’t considering what they told you to do.

For example:

Ti va di andare a fare shopping domani? Non ci penso proprio!

Would you like to go shopping tomorrow? Don’t even think about it!

Neanche per sogno/ Neanche per idea

Also, in this case, you can use one of these two phrases to say no in Italian when you are absolutely convinced not to complete something you were suggested to do.

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Example:

Potresti andare tu a fare la spesa al posto mio? Neanche per idea!/Neanche per sogno!

Could you go grocery shopping instead of me? Not a chance!/In your dreams!

Scordatelo

This Italian way of saying no may sound harsh because it implies that you would never consider the idea of helping someone with something without even thinking about it.

For example:

Puoi aiutarmi con i compiti di Italiano? Scordatelo!

Can you help me with my Italian homework? Forget it!

When ”No” means ”Yes” in Italian

Come no

This is a very popular Italian expression that is used when you need to confirm something definitively.

Nonostante tutto, sono riusciti a finire in tempo, vero? Come no!

Despite everything, they were able to finish on time, right? For sure!

Question Tags

Question tags are generally associated with English grammar, but they can be translated into the Italian language in a variety of ways, one of which is by adding the word “no” followed by a question mark to the conclusion of your statement.

Il dottore dovrebbe arrivare a momenti, no?

The doctor should arrive soon, right?

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Learning Polite Ways to Say No

As you can see, there are many different ways to say no in Italian.

Some are rather common in daily conversation, while others are more uncommon or restricted to a small context of use.

Furthermore, keep in mind that certain phrases should be used carefully because they can be misunderstood (like, “Scordatelo!” and “Neanche per idea!“).

So, remember to pay attention to how and when using them!

How to politely say no in Italian?

In formal situations, it is appropriate to use the formal form of "no" in Italian, which is "no, grazie" (pronounced as "noh, graht-see-eh"). This translates to "no, thank you" in English and is a polite way to decline an offer or request.

How to formally refuse an offer in Italian?

You can say "La ringrazio, ma devo rifiutare."

Italian word of the day
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Example
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
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One Response

  1. Wow, this is so helpful! Grazie mille for sharing these different ways to say no in Italian. I’m definitely going to practice them!

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