How to Say ‘No’ in English in Different Situations

As you know, English is a language that is rich in expressions and idioms. There are different ways to express joy, gratitude, fatigue, and anger. To speak this rich language and to speak it well, one must learn to understand the nuances, idioms, and exclamations.

For example, have you ever wondered how to respond negatively to a request? If you are learning English, you will definitely find yourself in situations in which you will have to express your point of view and perhaps explain why you do not agree. That is why we are going to present some ways to disagree in different situations.

At Work

Imagine that you have just started working in an English-speaking country and have to say no to something someone asks of you. How can you do it in a well-mannered way without offending the other person? Here are some ideas:

  •   Could you help me take the order at table 3, please?

I wish I could help you, but they are calling me from the kitchen.

  •   Could you send this document to Mark, please?

Unfortunately, it is not a good time for me, I have a lot of paperwork to do by the end of the day.

  •   Could you prepare the lesson for year 4, please?

Normally, I would be able to, but today the Principal asked me to organize the Spanish language lab.

With Friends

And what about your friends? With them you feel confident and have no problem expressing your feelings openly. This does not, however, rule out the desire to be kind and to not hurt anyone’s feelings. How can you reject a friend’s proposal without leaving them feeling rejected?

  •   Would you like to come to the party on Sunday night?

I wish I could come, but I already have other plans. Enjoy the party!

  •   Are you coming to John’s place on Friday?

That sounds great, but I have other plans.

  •   Could you help me move on Saturday?

I would love to help, but I have a lot of work. Sorry!

With Family

To tell the truth, we are often more sincere with our family than with our friends. We all know how to say ‘no’ to our brother when he asks for the umpteenth time for help with his résumé. What if you have already helped him three times? How do you tell him – in English – that you have something else you need to do instead?

  •   Can you help me write my CV? I am not happy with it.

Take into account that we have already checked it several times. I told you, I will be busy today.

  •   Can you do the gardening today?

Mum, don’t you remember I have a job interview today?

  •   Why didn’t you do the shopping yesterday?

It was not my turn, mum. I am going to go tomorrow. You forgot!

It Just Went Wrong!

What about expressions of anger? These are useful when you find out that all the trains have been cancelled due to bad weather or when you find out that you have been assigned a shift at work on Sunday, when you had just planned a nice weekend with friends. How can you express disappointment in English?

What a shame!

This expression shows disappointment in the way that things have turned out.

For example:

All the trains have been cancelled. What a shame!

It really gets on my nerves!

Use this in a situation that really irritates or annoys you.

For example:

Have you heard David singing that horrible song all the time? It really gets on my nerves!

I’m fed up with it!

When you have endured a situation for a long time and you have had enough, use this to show that feeling.

For example:

Why do you always forget to close the door? I’m fed up with it!

These are just some ways to either express disappointment or to say ‘no’ in English. As we said at the beginning, English is a language that is rich in expressions for the most diverse situations in daily life. Do you want to expand your vocabulary and learn to express yourself in other aspects of daily life? ABA English offers a wide variety of video classes and short films to prepare you for day-to-day communication in English. How can you say ‘no’ to such an opportunity?

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  1. Thank you. This has made my day.

  2. So helpful thanks a lot

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