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🙅‍♀️ No in French

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jul 7, 2020
woman screaming non

No in French is “non”. But what about nope in French? Or not at all? Let’s see the many different ways of saying no in French.

Saying “non” in French for “no” is undoubtedly among the first French words you learned. But there are different ways to answer in the negative in French.

1 – Non, The Typical No in French

The typical way to say “no” in French is “non”. But be aware that “no” in French as in English is quite a powerful word.

If a friend kindly extends an invitation to you, are you going to just answer “no” in English? I don’t think so! You will nuance the “no”. It’s important to do so as well in French.

  • Tu veux dîner avec moi samedi ?
    Would you like to have dinner with me on Saturday?
  • Ah, non, désolée, malheureusement je ne peux pas. Tu es libre un autre jour ?
    Ah, no, I’m sorry, unfortunately I cannot. Are you available another day?

More about politely accepting or refusing an invitation in French in my article.

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2 – Nope in French

In modern spoken French, the pronunciation of “non” changes.

To pronounce “non” properly in French, you need to push your mouth out like a kiss. It requires an effort of enunciation.

So, if you didn’t enunciate that much and kept an open mouth, the sound will come at as a nasal “nan”. And saying “nan” for “no” in French is very common nowadays.

You’ll even see “non” written “nan” in text messages, or comic books… Anything that transcribes the way we speak.

picture from a French comic book

3 – Not at all in French

Saying “not at all” in French is very common. We say “pas du tout”, and use it a lot in French politeness for example.

  • Tu es sûr, ça ne te dérange pas d’ouvrir la fenêtre ?
    Are you sure you don’t mind opening the window?
  • Pas du tout !
    I don’t mind at all!

Here is “pas du tout” used in context by my daughter Leyla when she was 4. She’s telling me a French mother’s day poem. Sooooo cute!!

4 – No Way in French

For a categoric French “no”, we’d use the expression “pas question” or “hors de question”.

  • Je peux sortir ce soir avec mes amis ?
    May I go out tonight with my friends?
  • Pas question ! Tu as école demain !
    No way! There is school tomorrow!

Funny this example comes to mind, as I just posted a video of my daughter (15 as I write this article) – just kidding, Leyla is super serious and a A student!

5 – You Must be Kidding in French

Another modern expression to say “no” in French is “tu plaisantes !!” as in “are you kidding me?”. Let’s call this one the ironic French “no”!

  • Tu veux bien me prêter 10 balles ?
    Would you mind lending me 10 Euros? – balles is French slang for money
  • Tu rigoles?
    You must be kidding!

6 – 😱 The English French No

Just like I explained in my article about the many ways to say “yes” in French, French methods always list “mais non” as being a super common French expression…

“Mais non” does exist in French, but it carries a strong emotion with it. It can be surprise, shock, anger, irritation… One thing is certain we don’t say “mais non” all the time !

I blame French singer Henri Salvador!

7 – Nay in French

There is a very, very old French expression that we sometimes still use as a joke, like saying ‘nay’ in English.

  • Tu aimes les broccolis ?
    Do you like broccoli?
  • Que nenni ma tendre amie !
    Nay my sweet lady!

8 – French No Gestures

When we say “no” in French, we usually shake our head side to side. We may also point the index, or shake our index side to side to say “no” with our hand.

9 – Synonyms For No in French

And there are many more ways of saying “no” in French… I can’t possibly list all the synonyms for “no” in French, but here is a start.

  1. je crois que non – I don’t think so
  2. je ne dis pas non – I wouldn’t say no to that
  3. mais non – of course not
  4. absolument pas – absolutely not
  5. au contraire – on the contrary
  6. moi non – as for me, no… I don’t
  7. n’est-ce pas? – no? right? isn’t it?
  8. non plus – not (that) either
  9. pas tout à fait – not exactly, not quite
  10. pas vraiment – not really
  11. que non! – absolutely not!
  12. pas encore – not yet
  13. pas maintenant – not now
  14. plus maintenant – no longer
  15. jamais – never
  16. Oh non ! – Oh no!
  17. Aucun problème – no problem
  18. Bien sûr que non – of course not

So how do you learn these expressions? The best is to learn them in the context of a story, so you understand the meaning but also the intent behind it. I suggest you check out my French audiobook learning method: clear grammatical explanations illustrated with an ongoing novel recorded at different levels of enunciation (traditional French and modern spoken French)

Can you think of more ways of saying “no” in French? Please add them to the comment below – with an example if possible – and I’ll add them to the list!

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