How to say no in Italian: 15 different ways

In general, to answer negatively yet respectfully to a question in Italian, you just simply say “no” followed by “grazie” (thank you). But, in the Italian language, this is not the only way, let’s take a look at how to say no in Italian.
how to say no in italian
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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 buying 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 this expression.

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 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 had 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.

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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.

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?

Final thoughts

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!

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

Maria

I was born in Italy but after graduating from University I decided to travel around the world. I loved Asia and that’s why I decided to move, first to South Korea and then to China where I am currently working as a teacher.

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