How to Say No in Chinese – Quick Language Guide HSK1

Learning to say “no” in different languages is essential. But what about in Chinese? How do you say “no” in Mandarin or Cantonese? Is there a single direct translation for “no”? We will explore these questions and learn 10 ways to say “no” in Chinese. These skills will be useful for both beginners and those improving their language abilities. They’ll make common conversations easier in Chinese-speaking places.

Let’s explore the world of saying “no” in Chinese. It’s pretty interesting, actually!

No Direct Translation

Unlike English, Chinese doesn’t have a straightforward translation for “no.” It uses different words or phrases for negation, depending on context.

Expressing no in Chinese requires choosing words that fit the situation. This is unlike English, which uses “no” universally for negation.

Understanding how to say “no” in Chinese shows the language’s depth and cultural meanings. Each phrase has its own connotations and usage.

We will look at how “no” works in Chinese compared to English in this section. This helps learners appreciate Chinese’s complexity in expressing negation.

10 Ways to Say “No” in Chinese

Learning to say “no” in Chinese is key for good communication in Mandarin or Cantonese. It’s important to be able to say no in different ways. This can help in various social and cultural situations. We’ll look at ten ways to say “no” in Chinese, with characters, pronunciations, and translations. Knowing these phrases will help you in conversations in Chinese-speaking places.

1. 不 (Bù) – No

Usage: 布 (bù) is a direct way to say no in Chinese. It’s used in many talks to show refusal or disagreement.

2. 不可以 (Bù kěyǐ) – Cannot

Usage: 不可以 (bù kěyǐ) means something isn’t allowed. It shows when something can’t happen or has restrictions.

3. 不行 (Bù xíng) – Not Okay

Usage: 不行 (bù xíng) is like saying “not okay” in English. It’s for refusing or saying something is impossible or won’t work.

4. 不要 (Bù yào) – Don’t Want

Usage: 不要 (bù yào) shows you don’t want to do something. It’s a strong way to say you prefer not to take part.

5. 不想 (Bù xiǎng) – Don’t Want To

Usage: 不想 (bù xiǎng) means you’re not interested in doing something. It’s useful for turning down invites or showing you don’t like an activity.

6. 不必 (Bù bì) – No Need

Usage: 不必 (bù bì) says something isn’t needed. It’s used to say no thanks or to tell someone something isn’t necessary.

7. 不好意思 (Bù hǎoyìsi) – Sorry, I Can’t

Usage: 不好意思 (bù hǎoyìsi) means you’re sorry you can’t. It’s a polite way to say no, showing you care about the other person’s feelings.

Just Say No!

Saying no in Chinese can be straightforward. It’s key to refuse things clearly and with confidence. Using the right phrases makes it easier to say no while staying polite and understanding of the culture.

When you need to say no in Chinese, you have choices. The way you say no depends on how formal you need to be or how polite you want to sound.

  1. 不 – It’s the simplest way to say no in Mandarin. Good for saying no to offers or requests.
  2. Bùkèyǐ不可以  – A bit more formal, for turning down invites or suggestions politely.
  3. Bùhǎoyìsi 不好意思 – Means “I’m sorry”, for saying sorry when you can’t do something.
  4. Wǒ bùnéng 我不能 – For saying you’re unable to something, showing there’s a reason you can’t.
  5. Wǒ méi kòng 我没空 – Shows you’re busy or have no free time right now.

Use the right voice and manner when saying no in Chinese. Being polite and respectful is very important in Chinese culture. So, make sure your no is kind and considerate.

“In Chinese, saying no politely is all about the right words and tone. Always think about the culture too for clear communication.”

By knowing how to say no in Chinese, you can speak confidently in Chinese-speaking places. This shows you understand the culture well.

Phrase Characters Translation Usage
No General refusal in casual situations
Bùkèyǐ 不可以 Cannot; unable to Polite refusal; turning down an invitation or suggestion
Bùhǎoyìsi 不好意思 I’m sorry Apologizing for not being able to fulfill a request
Wǒ bùnéng 我不能 I can’t; I’m not able to Expressing inability to do something
Wǒ méi kòng 我没空 I’m busy; I don’t have time Indicating lack of availability or free time

Essential Vocabulary for Saying No in Chinese

Learning how to say “no” in Chinese is crucial. But, knowing other words for negation and disagreement is just as important. They help you handle social and cultural situations where you need to say no.

Here are some keywords to help you refuse in Chinese:

1. 不 (bù) – No

Just use 不 (bù) to say “no” in Chinese. It’s simple and fits many situations where you need to refuse.

2. 拒绝 (jùjué) – Refuse

For a stronger, more formal refusal, use 拒绝 (jùjué). This word means to refuse or reject something directly.

3. 不行 (bùxíng) – Not possible

If something cannot be done, say 不行 (bùxíng). This is good for turning down requests or suggesting that something cannot be carried out.

4. 不喜欢 (bù xǐhuān) – Don’t like

Not into something or someone? Use 不喜欢 (bù xǐhuān) to say “no.” It’s a way to refuse or show dislike.

5. 不同意 (bù tóngyì) – Don’t agree

To disagree or refuse an idea, use 不同意 (bù tóngyì). This phrase lets you politely say you don’t agree.

6. 不行了 (bù xíngle) – Can’t do it

When you can’t fulfill a task, say 不行了 (bù xíngle) to explain. This phrase shows you’re unable to do something.

7. 没兴趣 (méi xìngqù) – Not interested

If something doesn’t spark your interest, say 没兴趣 (méi xìngqù). It’s perfect for saying “no” to invitations or offers.

8. 没时间 (méi shíjiān) – No time

Use 没时间 (méi shíjiān) when you’re too busy. It explains why you’re unavailable.

9. 非常抱歉 (fēicháng bàoqiàn) – Very sorry

To apologize for refusing, say 非常抱歉 (fēicháng bàoqiàn). It shows you’re sorry and softens your refusal.

10. 请原谅 (qǐng yuánliàng) – Please forgive

If you need to ask for forgiveness after saying “no,” say 请原谅 (qǐng yuánliàng). It shows you regret the impact of your refusal.

Learning these words will give you more ways to say “no” in Chinese. Use them to be more confident in social and cultural situations.

Learn Chinese

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Tips for Language Learning Success

To really learn a language, you need to be dedicated. Here are tipsto boost your learning:

  1. Set Realistic Goals: Pick goals that you can reach in the time you have. Make sure they fit your level.
  2. Practice Regularly: Practice often. Do activities daily, talk with others, or listen to Chinese podcasts.
  3. Immerse Yourself: Try to use Chinese as much as you can. Watch Chinese shows, listen to music, and speak with natives.
  4. Make Learning Enjoyable: Choose topics you like and learn about them in Chinese. This could be through books or movies.
  5. Adopt a Growth Mindset: Don’t be afraid of mistakes. See them as chances to get better.

Learning a language well needs time, effort, and a good attitude. Keep going, stay interested, and cheer your own progress!

Techniques for Effective Language Study

There are more things you can do to improve. Here are some extra tips:

  • Active Listening: Listen to lots of Chinese, like podcasts. Pay attention to the words and sounds you hear.
  • Reading Authentic Material: Read in Chinese to get better. Start with easy things and work up to harder stuff.
  • Tutor: Talking with a native or someone fluent can help a lot. They’ll correct you and help you get better.
  • Flashcards and Mnemonics: Use flashcards and memory hooks to remember words. This helps a lot with vocabulary.
  • Grammar Study: Learn Chinese grammar for better writing and speaking. With good knowledge of grammar, your sentences will be clearer.

Practice these tips to do better in Chinese. Learning a language is about finding what works for you. So, use these ideas in a way that fits you best.


Saying “no” in Chinese is key to good communication, whether in Mandarin or Cantonese. This article shows many ways to say “no” in Chinese. Knowing these phrases makes talking to Chinese speakers easier.

Chinese doesn’t have a direct word for “no.” Depending on the situation, you might use different words or phrases to say “no.” This makes the Chinese language unique.

You now know ten ways to refuse in Chinese. You have simple phrases like “bu” and more detailed ones like “bukeyi” or “bukexing.” This range can help in different social and cultural settings.

We also talked about immersing yourself in Chinese culture and language. Programs like LC Chinese School or CLI offer great experiences in China. They help you understand the language and culture better.

By now, you should understand how to deal with saying “no” in Chinese. It’s more than just words; it’s about connecting and communicating well. With these tips, you can confidently talk to people in Chinese-speaking places.

Essential Phrases for Saying No in Chinese (Table Format)

In this section, we’ve made a detailed table of phrases to say “no” in Chinese. Each entry shows the word in Mandarin, its pronunciation in pinyin, and the English meaning. You’ll also find helpful examples for using these phrases. It’s a great tool for anyone learning Chinese to quickly find ways to refuse.

These phrases will help you speak up appropriately in Chinese speaking countries. They’re useful for everyone, from beginners to those improving their Chinese. With this table, you’ll have what you need to say “no confidently”.

Knowing how to refuse politely in Chinese is key to fitting in and showing respect. It’s not just about language; it’s about understanding Chinese culture too. These phrases will make your communication clear in any situation.

Expand your Chinese skills by learning these “no” phrases. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll feel at ease saying no in Chinese. It’s a big step towards better conversations in Chinese.


How do you say “no” in Chinese?

In Chinese, you don’t use a simple “no” like in English. You say “bu” (不) for most negative answers. Other ways include “bushi” (不是) for ‘not be’ and “meiyou” (没有) for ‘not have.’

What is the difference between expressing “no” in Chinese and English?

Chinese often need more than just “no” to say they disagree or refuse. English usually uses “no” directly, making it simpler than Chinese. This makes the Chinese more detailed when expressing negativity.

How can learning the different ways to say “no” in Chinese be useful?

Knowing how to say “no” in different ways is great for talking with Chinese people. It shows you understand their language and respect their culture. This can help in everyday talks and in business, too.

Are there specific phrases for refusing politely in Chinese?

Yes, many phrases let you say “no” politely in Chinese. For example, “bukeneng” (不可能) means ‘not possible’.

What are some essential vocabulary words related to refusing and negation in Chinese?

Important words for saying “no” in Chinese are “bu” (不) for ‘no’, “jujue” (拒绝) for ‘reject’, and “bukeyi” (不可以) for ‘cannot’. Knowing these helps make conversations clearer.

What are the key points to remember about learning to say “no” in Chinese?

Remember, Chinese doesn’t use “no” as English does. There are different words and phrases for refusing. Learning these can help you chat better in Chinese.

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