Wordwise 126 A2854

Top 3 ways to say NO politely

  • 2016.04.06

We generally all want to be helpful, considerate, and friendly people. And so, most of us have become accustomed to*saying “yes” to all requests, offers and invitations that come our way. We often say yes even though we may actually be too busy, too tired or simply not interested in doing something. As a language learner, you may sometimes also agree to things because you are worried about being impolite if you say “no”. The truth is we can’t do everything, so we must say no occasionally. To help you gain confidence saying no, here are three useful tips:

1. Let the person know you wish you could help
Show your desire to help (or join an event) before you say no. The other person will feel good knowing that you wanted to help or join them.

I would love to help you; unfortunately, I am working that day.
I really wish I could come, but I have to work.
Normally, I would love to, but…

2. Tell them like it is*
Not everybody likes the same things. People understand this. So, if you invited to an event or offered some food or drink that is not appealing to you, thank the person for thinking of you before declining.

I appreciate the offer, but I don’t eat seafood.
Thank you for the offer, but I’m not really an opera fan.
It’s so kind of you to offer, but…

3. Suggest an alternative*
One of the best things you can do when you say “no” is to suggest an alternative. You might be able to meet another day, or you may know someone else who can help or would love to accept the offer.

That sounds fun, but I can’t tonight. How about next Friday?
Thank you for the offer, but I’m not really an opera fan. You should ask Jane. She loves it!
I would love to help, but I am so busy right now. Michael might be able to help.

Saying no in the right way is good manners and maintains good relationships. So, please practice the phrases above and try using one of them the next time you need to say no.


*become accustomed to: 慣れる、身につく、身に付く
*Tell them like it is.: ありのままを言う、正直に言う
*alternative:(可算名詞) 選択肢、二者択一、代わり