Sometimes, it’s quite hard to say no, even in italian. After studying how to say yes in Italian, you can learn how to say no:
How to say no in Italian?
Generally, to say no in Italian you just need to say “no” followed by the word “grazie” (thank you) to answer a question negatively, but politely. Anyway, there are several alternatives to no in Italian, whose use is mainly related to the person you are talking to. You can for example use expressions like non credo / non penso, ne dubito, non è possibile, magari, macché or neanche per sogno! No can also be used to say yes in expressions like come no (for sure) or used in question tags.
Let’s go see them!
formal and informal Ways to say no in Italian
Non credo / Non penso
These two statements to say no in Italian are chiefly used to express doubts, hesitation about a certain situation or what is going to happen.
Sai per caso se la ferramenta è ancora aperta a quest’ora? – Non credo / Non penso.
Do you know if the hardware store is still open this late? – I don’t believe so / I don’t think so.
Ne dubito / Ne dubito proprio
Instead of resorting to no in Italian, you can employ one of these expressions when you want to convey uncertainty or you have the feeling that something is to happen or did not happen.
Pensi che verrà dopo quello che è successo? – Ne dubito! / Ne dubito proprio!
Do you think she’ll come after what happened? – I doubt it! / I really doubt it!
Mi sa di no
When you are not sure of something and fear the answer could be negative, you should utilize “mi sa di no”.
Sai se Luca è già andato a fare la spesa? – Mi sa di no!
Do you know if Luca went grocery shopping? – I don’t think so!
Temo di no
When using this statement to say no Italian, you are communicating to be sorry for something done you are not to blame for.
Hai ricevuto l’e-mail che ti ho inviato domenica? – Temo di no!
Did you receive the email I sent you on Saturday? – I’m afraid not!
Non è possibile
In this case you are conveying surprise, anger or disappointment for something that happened to you or others.
Sapevi che Steven si è sposato con Carol la scorsa settimana? – Non è possibile! Mi stai prendendo in giro?
Did you know Steven got married to Carol last week? – No way! Are you kidding me?
This term is generally employed in place of no in Italian when you want to express hope, wish for something that will or did not happen.
Hai comprato delle scarpe nuove? – Magari! Non ho un euro in tasca!
Have you bought any new shoes? – I wish! I don’t even have a euro to spend!
No in Italian – Formal expressions
Vorrei, ma non posso
In this case, your intention is to accept what they are offering you but you politely decline because you don’t want to “take advantage” of the current situation.
Vorresti rimanere a cena con noi? – Vorrei, ma non posso!
Would you like to stay for dinner with us? – I would like to, but I cannot.
Sarà per la prossima volta
In order not to appear rude, you make use of polite manners to refuse something they are offering you, postponing it the next time you will see each other again.
Che ne dici di andare al cinema stasera? – Non riesco. Sarà per la prossima volta!
What about going to the cinema tonight? – I can’t. Maybe some other time!
La ringrazio, ma devo rifiutare
Extremely polite, this expression can be addressed to a person you don’t know very well, probably older than you. In this case you are saying to be grateful for what they are offering you but you are “forced” to decline the offer on this occasion due to specific reasons.
Le andrebbe una partita a carte? – La ringrazio, ma devo rifiutare. Mi aspettano a casa.
Would you like to play cards? – I thank you, but I must say no. I’m expected at home.
Grazie, è come se avessi accettato
It is an extremely polite alternative to say no in Italian used when you kindly say no in Italian to something that has been offered to you from a person you barely know.
Vuoi una tazza di caffè? – Grazie, è come se avessi accettato!
Would you like a cup of coffee? – Thanks, pretend I had accepted!
No in Italian – Informal expressions
Considered as one of the most well-known expressions to say no in Italian, you can apply it to communicate a strong sense of disappointment.
Hai finito di studiare? – Macché, non ho neanche iniziato!
Have you finished studying? – As if! I haven’t even started!
In some cases, macché can be followed by a noun or a verb, especially when you are excluding or rejecting the possibility of doing something.
Andiamo in montagna quest’estate? – Macché montagna! Andiamo ai Caraibi!
Shall we go to the mountains this summer? – Forget the mountains! Let’s go to the Caribbean!
Ti va di andare a bere qualcosa? – Macché bere! Muoio di fame!
Do you want to go get a drink? Forget drinking! I’m starving!
Neanche per sogno / Neanche per idea
You should apply one of these two alternatives to say no in Italian when you are firmly convinced not to perform a task you were suggested to accomplish.
Potresti comprare tu i regali di Natale al posto mio? – Neanche per sogno! / Neanche per idea!
Could you buy Christmas presents in my place? – In your dreams! / Not a chance!
Non ci penso proprio
Also in this case your aim is to mention the fact that you are not considering what they commanded you to do at all.
Ti va di andare a correre più tardi? – Non ci penso proprio!
Would you like to go jogging later? – Don’t even think about it!
Non mi va
When you use “non mi va” to say no in Italian, you just want to state that you dislike what they suggested you to do or don’t feel like doing anything at the moment.
Che ne dici se facciamo una torta? – Non mi va!
What about baking a pie? – I don’t feel like it!
This way to say no in Italian might be quite harsh to hear because it conveys the idea that you will ever consider the possibility of helping someone do something, without even thinking about it.
Mi aiuteresti con i compiti di matematica più tardi? – Scordatelo!
Would you help me with math homework later? – Forget it!
Remember to employ it sparingly so as not to appear unkind, even if you are talking to a friend!
Proprio no / Certo che no
You can apply one of these expressions when asserting you are extremely sure not to do something previously requested.
Non avrai intenzione di rinunciare alle ferie retribuite, vero? – Proprio no! / Certo che no!
Are you not going to give up the right to paid leave, aren’t you? – Definitely not! / Of course not!
Ma quando mai
Another way to say no in Italian is by replying with this expression when someone tries “to accuse” you of something you haven’t done.
Eri tu che cenavi ieri sera con Dominique? – Ma quando mai!
Was it you who was having dinner with Dominique last night? – Since when?
Non se ne parla proprio / Per carità
These expressions could be useful to you when you definitely reject the idea of doing something for someone for different reasons.
Dovresti convincere Paul a vendere la sua casa. – Non se ne parla proprio! / Per carità!
You should persuade Paul to sell his house. – That’s off the table! / For pity’s sake!
No in Italian – When “no” means “yes”
In certain circumstances, basically when you retort to someone, the term no might mean yes, as in the expressions Come no and those related to question tags.
This is a very common Italian expression you generally resort to when you want to confirm something in a decisive way.
Nonostante gli errori, sono stati molto bravi, vero? – Come no!
Despite the mistakes, they have been very successful, haven’t they? – For sure!
Primarily belonging to the English grammar, question tags can be translated in Italian in different ways; one of these is by adding the word no accompanied by a question mark to the end of your statement.
Dovrebbe prendere le pillole una volta al giorno, no?
He should take his pills once a day, shouldn’t he?
As you may have noticed, there are many ways to say no in Italian when talking to a close friend or a stranger. Some of these are relatively common in everyday conversations, while others are mostly unusual or limited to a specific context of use. Beyond that, you should remember these expressions must be employed with restraint because they might often be perceived negatively or even hurt someone (like “Scordatelo!”, “Neanche per sogno!”).
Therefore, pay attention to when and how using them!