Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to Say NO!

Difficulty: 0

When you have to say NO, sometimes you want to add nuance.

How can you saynowithout being rude?

Also, what do Americans really mean when they sayI dont think so”?

Do they mean no? There are lots of ways you can saynowhile being kind and showing appreciation.

When I was living in Germany, I was frustrated that I didnt have any phrases to use

in these kinds of situations. I wished I had various ways to saynoor to turn down an invitation.

Today were going to go over lots of ways to saynoin English, in various situations.

Situation 1: Youre out to eat and youve eaten, and your server asks if youd like dessert,

or if youd like to see a dessert menu, or if theres anything else youd like to order.

You could say a simple:

No, thank you.

or No thanks.

OR, I dont think so.

We useI dont thinkto mean were not sure.

Rachel, do they sell diapers at the corner store?

I dont think so, but Im not sure.

Are they open late?

I dont think so.

Again, that means probably not, but Im not 100% sure.

So if were asked if we know something, and were not sure, we can say

I dont think so.” But if were asked if we WANT something, “I dont think sosimply meansno’.

Do you want to try this on in another size?

I dont think so.

Do you want dessert?

I dont think so.

Do you want to supersize that order?

I dont think so.

Situation 2: Someone asks you to do something you dont want to do or cant do.

This could be a colleague at work asking you to work on a project, or someone, say, at church

asking if you can do something. Can you help plan the retreat this year?

This is, someone asks you to do something extra, to take on an extra task or extra work.

Not something social. Well get to that in a minute.

Here are some phrases you could use to turn down something like this:

Sorry, Ive got too much going on already.

Sorry, I cant take on any extra work.

Sorry, I cant take on any extra work. Take on, a phrasal verb.

Sorry, I cant take on any extra work.

Sorry, I dont have time.

Sorry, I dont have time.

That one is nice and simple. Sorry, I dont have time.

Unfortunately, Im not going to have time to do that.

Unfortunately, I cant take that on.

Using the wordunfortunatelyshows that you have some level of disappointment.

Its something youd like to do, or you can see that it would be good for you to do,

or you can see that youre disappointing someone by saying no. Unfortunately, I cant.

You could also say:

Id like to, but Ive got too much on my plate to take that on.

Too much on my platethats an idiom that means youre busy, and last week I did a video

that went over 16 different ways to say youre busy.

Often, when you decline something you add that youre busy or what your plans are,

so check out that video if you havent already. Youll learn some great phrases to use

when you need to decline something.

You could say, “I dont think I can make that work.”

I dont think I can make that work.

Again, were usingI dont thinkhere to meanno.” Its sort of a softer way than just saying a flatno’.

Rachel, can you help set up for the event on Monday?

I dont think I can make that work. Sorry.

Hey, can you stay the night for a client phone call?

I dont think I can make that work. I have to pick up my kid at six.

You could say, “not this timeif its something youre interested in in the future.

You could even say something likeNot this time, but please ask me again. Id like to try to do that next time.”

You could also try showing your appreciation. For example: "Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't."

OR, "I'm honored, but I can't." OR, "I'd really like to, but I can't make it work this time."

These all have 'but'.

These kind of statement plus 'but', is something we would use a lot in social situations with friends, too.

That brings us to Situation 3: A friend asks you to do something social, but you cant.

Maybe youre too busy or youve already got plans.

You could say:

"I wish I could! But ___" and your excuse.

I wish I could, but we have guests in town then.

Or, I wish I could, but Im busy tonight.

So, “I wish I couldplus your excuse.

I could replaceI wish I couldwith "Id love to" or "That sounds lovely".

That sounds lovely, but Ill be out of town, or, I already have plans, or, but Im helping my friend move that day.

You could also say: Id like to.

Id like to, but Im not free tonight.

Id like to, but Im not free tonight.

Oh, it's out of tune. I'd like to, but I really can't make it work this time.

Or, what about this one: Shoot, that sounds fun. Sorry I cant make it.

Or, Sorry I cant come.

You get the idea.

Situation 4: you get a phone call, a sales call, someone wants to talk to you about switching phone companies.

Or, youre walking down the street and someone wants to sell you something or

have you give money to their charity. You can be brief.

You can simply say: Sorry, or, not today. Or, Im not interested, thanks.

There are lots of different ways to expressno”.

Memorizing some of these phrases will make easier for you to decline an invitation

or not to do something youre asked to do.

It feels nice to have creative ways to express yourself, other than a bluntno”, doesnt it?

Heres last weeks video on ways to say youre busy.

Lots of really useful phrases and idioms there.

If youve already seen that one, then check out another Rachels English video in the suggested videos.

And dont forget to subscribe if you havent already.

What other situations do you need English phrases for?

Let me know in the comments below.

Thats it, and thanks so much for using Rachels English.

The Description of How to Say NO!