Meaning of NO in English


1. ways of saying no to a question, request, or suggestion

2. to say no to a question, request or suggestion

3. ways of politely saying no when someone offers you something

4. to shake your head as a way of saying no


say no to an offer, suggestion, or request : ↑ REJECT

say that you will not do something : ↑ REFUSE

see also





1. ways of saying no to a question, request, or suggestion

▷ no /nəʊ/

use this when someone asks you a question or makes a request or suggestion :

▪ ‘Are you Italian?’ ‘No, I’m Spanish.’

▪ ‘Shall I help you?’ ‘No, no -- I can do it on my own, thanks.’

the answer’s no

▪ If she asks to borrow any more money, the answer’s no!

▷ not at all /ˌnɒt ət ˈɔːl/

use this when what someone has suggested is not at all true, or when saying you do not mind at all if someone does something :

▪ ‘Your boys are keen on sport, aren’t they?’ ‘Not at all - just the opposite in fact.’

▪ ‘Is my radio bothering you?’ ‘Not at all -- I’m quite enjoying it.’

▪ ‘I’d like to be on my own for a while. Do you mind?’ ‘Not at all,’ she said kindly.

▷ I’m afraid not /aɪm əˌfreɪd ˈnɒt/

use this when saying that you are sorry that you cannot do something that someone has asked you to do, do not have something someone has asked you for etc :

▪ ‘Are you coming to the barbecue tomorrow?’ ‘No, I’m afraid not. I’ve promised to go and see my Mum.’

▪ ‘Have you got change for £20?’ ‘No, I’m afraid not.’

▷ of course not /əv ˈkɔːʳs nɒt/

use this to say no very strongly, when you think what someone has suggested or asked is clearly unlikely or stupid :

▪ ‘Are you serious about Sam?’ ‘Of course not, we’re just good friends.’

▪ ‘Don’t tell anyone else, will you?’ ‘Of course not.’

▷ not really /nɒt ˈrɪəli/

use this when someone asks if you want to do something, if you like something etc, and although you say no you do not have very strong feelings about it :

▪ ‘Do you want to come to the movie with us?’ ‘Not really. I think I’ll just stay in and read.’

▪ ‘But you quite enjoy your job, don’t you?’ ‘Not really, no. I feel I could do with a change.’

▷ certainly not /ˌsɜːʳtnli ˈnɒt/

use this especially when forbidding someone to do something or when you are annoyed or shocked that they have suggested something :

▪ ‘Can I have some wine?’ ‘Certainly not -- you’re far too young!’

▪ ‘Are you thinking of resigning?’ ‘Certainly not.’

▷ no way /ˌnəʊ ˈweɪ/ informal

use this when you are saying very strongly that you refuse to do something or when you are sure that something cannot possibly be true :

▪ I’m not going to work late on Friday night! No way!

▪ ‘Do you think we can make the trip in two hours?’ ‘No way! It’ll take more like four.’

▪ I don’t believe he stole the money -- no way!

▷ you must be joking/kidding /juː ˌmʌst biː ˈdʒəʊkɪŋ, ˈkɪdɪŋ/ informal

use this when you think that what someone has asked or suggested seems stupid or dangerous and you would definitely not consider doing it :

▪ ‘Want a ride on the back of my motorcycle?’ ‘You must be kidding.’

▪ ‘Are you going out with Jake?’ ‘You must be joking! I wouldn’t go out with him if he was the last person on earth.’

2. to say no to a question, request or suggestion

▷ say no /seɪ ˈnəʊ/ [verb phrase]

▪ I asked him to come along to the restaurant with us, but he said no.

▪ She’s not likely to say no if you tell her the real reason you need the money.

▪ I’m really busy at the moment, so I’m afraid I’ll have to say no.

▷ answer/reply in the negative /ˌɑːnsəʳ, rɪˌplaɪ ɪn ðə ˈnegətɪvǁˌæn-/ [verb phrase] written

to say no when you are asked something :

▪ When asked to confirm whether all the missing soldiers were accounted for, the Lieutenant answered in the negative.

▪ Workers were asked if they had reached their weekly targets, and if they replied in the negative, they were fired.

3. ways of politely saying no when someone offers you something

▷ no thanks/no thank you /nəʊ ˈθæŋks, nəʊ ˈθæŋk juː/

use this as a polite way of saying no when someone offers you something :

▪ ‘More coffee?’ ‘No thanks.’

▪ If someone offers you a cigarette, just say no thanks.

▷ thanks all the same /ˌθæŋks ɔːl ðə ˈseɪm/

use this when you do not want something which someone has offered you, but you are grateful that they asked :

▪ ‘Do you want to come in our car?’ ‘I’ve already got a lift, thanks all the same.’

▪ ‘Can you come for dinner on Saturday?’ ‘Thanks all the same, but I’m afraid I’m busy on Saturday.’

4. to shake your head as a way of saying no

▷ shake your head /ˌʃeɪk jɔːʳ ˈhed/ [verb phrase]

▪ ‘Shall I give him a message from you?’ ‘Rosalie shook her head. ’No, I expect he’ll be telephoning me."

▪ Even before I’d finished my sentence, Dad was already shaking his head.

▪ She shook her head. ‘I’m afraid I don’t agree,’ she said.

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