How to Say “No” Politely – 80 Different Ways

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Let’s practice phrases you can use to say “no” politely and save your time – phrases start at 3:08. Learn about the Lingoda Marathon at 7:20. The Marathon is now closed, but you can join regular Lingoda lessons here.

Why Saying No is Difficult but Important

Saying “no” can be really difficult because you don’t want to upset people. You might be worried about what they will think of you or how they will react. Maybe you’ll lose their favor.

I know, I’ve had this problem too before. Sometimes I just don’t want to say “no” because I’m afraid how the other person will react. It’s scary to think that the person won’t like you anymore or be upset with you. However, saying “no” can sometimes be the kindest and best thing you can do!

But, think about this — if the person is really your friend, they’ll understand! In other words, if it’s meant to be, it will be.

Keep in mind too that your time is extremely valuable. Learn to guard it and save it for the things you really want to do. When you say “no” to something that you don’t really want to do, you are giving yourself the freedom to spend your time doing something you really love, or maybe to be available for new opportunities!

It’s ok to say “no,” especially if you learn how to say it in a clear and kind way. People will respect you even more when you can give them a straightforward answer.

If you feel especially hesitant or shy when speaking English, it might be a good idea to build your confidence with this lesson – 3 Ways to Improve Your Confidence in English

Different Ways to Say No and When to Use Them

Saying “No” to an Invitation or Offer

  1. I appreciate the offer, but I can’t.
  2. I’m honored, but can’t.
  3. I’d love to, but I can’t.
  4. I appreciate the invitation, but I am completely booked.
  5. Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t.
  6. Regrettably, I’m not able to.
  7. You’re so kind to think of me, but I can’t.
  8. No thank you, but it sounds lovely.
  9. Thanks for the offer, but I can’t.
  10. Thanks, but Maybe another time.
  11. I’m flattered you considered me, but unfortunately I’ll have to pass this time.
  12. Sounds great, but I can’t commit. 
  13. No thank you, but it sounds lovely.
  14. Thanks, but no thanks.

Phrases to Say “No” When You Don’t Have the Time

  1. I’m just swamped right now, so I can’t.
  2. I’m not able to make it this week/month/year.
  3. Perhaps next season when things clear up.
  4. Ask me in a month.
  5. Circle back to me in a few weeks.
  6. I have a few things I need to take care of first. Can I let you know later?
  7. I’m really buckling down on my priorities right now, so I can’t.
  8. I’m really maxed out. 
  9. It’s not feasible for me to take this on.
  10. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.
  11. I’m really spread thin these days, I just can’t take it on right now.
  12. I’ve got too much on my plate right now.
  13. I’m not taking on anything else right now.
  14. Bandwidth is low, so I won’t be able to make it work.
  15. I’m slammed.
  16. I’m at the end of my rope right now so have to take a raincheck.
  17. If only it worked.
  18. If only I could.
  19. I’m booked into something else.
  20. I’m not taking on new things.
  21. Another time might work.
  22. I really don’t have any openings in my schedule.
  23. I’m head-down right now on a project, so won’t be able to.
  24. I wish there were two of me!
  25. No thanks, I have another commitment.
  26. Sadly I have something else.

Ways to Say “No” When it’s Not Interesting to You or Not a Good Match for You

  1. It doesn’t sound like the right fit.
  2. I’m not sure I’m the best for it.
  3. I believe I wouldn’t fit the bill, sorry.
  4. It’s not a good idea for me.
  5. I don’t think I’m the right person for that.

How to Say “No” for Any Reason at All!

  1. I wish I could make it work.
  2. I wish I were able to.
  3. I’d rather not 
  4. I’m afraid I can’t.
  5. If only I could!
  6. No thanks, I won’t be able to make it.
  7. Not this time.
  8. Unfortunately, it’s not a good time.
  9. Unfortunately I can’t.
  10. I’d rather not.
  11. I wish there were two of me, but I can’t.
  12. I have something else. Sorry.
  13. Apologies, but I can’t make it.
  14. Maybe another time.
  15. I would if I could, but I can’t.
  16. I’d love to — but can’t.
  17. Darn! Not able to fit it in.
  18. Rats! Would’ve loved to.
  19. I’ll need to bow out.
  20. I won’t be able to
  21. I really shouldn’t.
  22. Sorry, I can’t

Saying “No” Casually – Less Politely

  1. Mm-Mm
  2. I’m all set.
  3. I’m good.
  4. Not right now. 
  5. Naw 
  6. No way, Jose.
  7. No can do
  8. Nah
  9. No
  10. Nope
  11. Not possible.
  12. Heaven’s* no!
  13. Never.

With all of these ways to say “no” politely, I suggest that you choose a few favorites to practice, memorize, and use the next time that you would rather not commit to doing something!

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