If you’re learning French and want to learn the right words for “no” in French, you’ve come to the right place!
Just like the many ways to say “yes” in French, there are many ways to say “no” for different situations and moods. With this guide, you’ll learn the direct translation for “no” in French – along with ways to say “nope,” “never,” “no, thank you,” and more, so you can tell people “no” like a native French speaker.
Here are the 13 best ways to say “no” in French
If you’re looking for a direct “no” in French translation, non is the way to go. This is the primary French word for “no.” It’s the one you’ll see on forms, and you’ll hear and see it regularly in French conversation and writing.
If you’re looking for just a basic “no” in French, look no further than non.
But, of course, there are many other ways to give someone a negative response to a question en français !
Nan is the word for “nope” in French. Nan is more casual than non – you’ll likely hear it used in casual conversation and would most likely see it in texting, comic books, or written dialogue.
3. Mais non
Mais non is a phrase many new French learners will recognize. However, you may be surprised to learn that, like mais oui and oui oui, it might not be used exactly how you’d expect.
Mais non means “but no” in French, and is used when someone has said something very wrong – mais non! It’s emphatic, just like mais oui, which indicates – emphatically – that someone has said something very obvious.
4. Non, merci
Wondering how to say “no, thank you” in French? It’s simple! The phrase is non, merci. Literally the French words for “no” and “thank you.” Easy, right?
Merci is pronounced like “mare-si” – ‘mare’ like a horse, ‘si’ like you can see the horizon, just cut short into a quick “si.” And, of course, the “mare” portion uses a French ‘r,’ if you’re working on your French pronunciation.
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5. Pas du tout
Pas du tout is another common way to say “no.” It means “not at all” in French. Whereas nan is more casual, pas du tout is relatively polite. Like “not at all” in English, non, pas du tout can be used to say, “no, I don’t mind at all.” Or you can use it to answer questions.
Tu n’aimes pas le café ?
Pas du tout.
You don’t like coffee?
Not at all.
6. Je ne pense pas
Je ne pense pas is an informal way to say “I don’t think so” or “I think not” in French.
It’s a gentle way of saying no and can help communicate uncertainty when you’re not completely sure of an answer.
For example, if you ask a friend if they’re available Sunday, they might say je ne pense pas.
7. Bien sûr que non
Bien sûr que non means “of course not” in French. If you’ve learned how to say “yes” in French, you might know that bien sûr – which literally means “very sure” – is commonly used to say “of course” or “certainly.”
Bien sûr que non is how that phrase is made into a negative to say “certainly not” or, again, “of course not.” This is an informal phrase you might say among friends, but should avoid in more formal contexts.
Jamais is the word for “never” in French. It can be used on its own to say “never” in response to a question or suggestion.
Tu viens souvent dans ce restaurant ?
English question; Do you come to this restaurant often?
Jamais can also be used in the ne…jamais format like ne…pas is used, but instead of simply saying “not,” you’re saying “never.”
Il ne nage pas .
He is not swimming.
Il ne nage jamais .
He never swims.
Pas vraiment Handily enough, pas vraiment translates directly to “not really” in French and is used as you might imagine.
For example, if you’re not enjoying your wine and someone asks, tu aimes ce vin ? You might respond pas vraiment !
At least, you might if you’re not afraid of offending them over their wine choice.
10. Pas tout à fait
Tout à fait is a common French phrase used to say “yes, that’s right,” “exactly,” or “quite.” Pas tout à fait, then, means “not exactly” or “not quite.” It’s a useful, somewhat gentler way to say “no” in French when the situation calls for it.
11. C’est pas possible
If you want to say that something is not possible in French, you’d say c’est pas possible. This is another common French phrase and offers a strong “no,” while suggesting that it’s out of your hands – it’s not just a no, it’s not possible.
For example, you might hear c’est pas possible from someone at a hotel desk, say if you ask for a late check out on a busy day, or you might hear it in response to something surprising.
“Can I check out of my hotel room after 3 PM for free??”
“Non, c’est pas possible !”
Worth noting: While the possible in pas possible is spelled like the English word ‘possible’, in French it’s pronounced like ‘poh-SEE-bluh.’ A bit different, but easy enough to remember!
12. C’est mort
When you want to say “no way” in French, you can use the phrase c’est mort! It’s a common colloquial phrase which literally means “it’s dead,” but is used like we’d say “no way.”
You could also say certainement pas (certainly not) or pas question in the place of saying no with a “no way.”
13. With body language
Last but certainly not least, a common and popular way to communicate a “no” in French is to use body language!
You can shake your head side to side with a “hun, hun,” when dealing with adults, and with kids you might see someone click their tongue or wave an index finger back and forth to indicate a clear French “no.” But take note! A wagging finger or “tss” is really only used with children, among adults it could be considered quite condescending.
Now you know how to say no in French
But the learning doesn’t have to stop here! Busuu offers language courses designed by experts where you’ll get the support of a community and feedback from real French speakers.
How could you say no?