How To Say No in Korean: Formal and Informal Phrases For Beginners!

no in korean

When it comes to language, the ability to say no is an essential skill. From refusing offers of food or drink to declining invitations, “no” is one of the first words most learners learn in any language. In Korean, there are a few different ways to say “no,” depending on what you want to express and who you are speaking with.

In this blog post, we will look at how to say no in Korean, from polite refusals to more firm rejections. We will also take a look at some tips and tricks that can help you express your refusal more clearly and confidently in any situation.

Table of Contents

How To Say No In Korean

no in korean

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The way to say no in Korean language most of the times is depends on the situation you are in, the age gap, and what kind of relationship you have with the person you are talking to. If you are in a formal business setting and talk with your co-worker, it is more appropriate to use a formal phrase like ‘아니요’ (aniyo) to decline a request or offer. 

On the other hand, if you are talking to a friend or a close family member, a casual phrase like ‘아니’ (ani) can be appropriate. Additionally, the way you say no can also depend on the specific request or offer being made. For example, if someone is asking for a small favor, it may be more polite to say ‘No, I can’t do it yet’, rather than simply saying ‘아니요’ (No).

Formal Ways To Say No In Korean

no in korean

the formal ways to say no in korean is 아니요 (aniyo), you can use this word independently without any sentence as it simply means no.

Sometimes you might see 아니오 (anio) and 아뇨 (anyo) spelling in dramas or your korean friends. These are actually mean the same but sometime slang and traditional korean language use 아니오 (anio) and 아뇨 (anyo).  However, the best and the most common spelling you can use is 아니요 (aniyo). 

Using "아니요" (aniyo) in different situations

Here’s some example of formal ways to say no in Korean to help you understand how you can say ‘No’ in Korean.

  • A: 이것을 사랑하시나요? (ikeoseul saranghasinayo?)
    Do you love this?
    B: 아니요, 싫어요. (aniyo, silheoyo).
    No, I don’t like it.


  • A: 오늘 야구 경기를 볼래요? (oneul yagu gyeonggireul bollaeyo?)
    Do you want to watch the baseball game today?
    B: 아니요, 나중에 할게요. (aniyo, najunge halgeyo)
    No, I’ll do it later.


  • A: 이 음식을 먹을래요? (i eumsikeul meogeullaeyo?)
    Do you want to eat this food?
    B: 아니요, 배고프지 않아요. (aniyo, baegopeuji anhayo)
    No, I’m not hungry.


  • A: 이 영화를 볼래요? (i yeonghwareul bollaeyo?)
    Do you want to watch this movie?
    B: 아니요, 봤어요. (aniyo, boasseoyo)
    No, I watched it.

Informal Ways To Say No In Korean

no in korean

Informal words is the words you can use while talking with someone close to you, or someone close to your age. You can say 아니 (ani), when you talk with your friends or loved ones that are in the same age. Just simply remove the last word 요.

Using "아니" (ani) for casual and informal settings

Here’s some example of informal ways to say no in Korean to help you understand how you can say ‘No’ in Korean.

  • A: 이 게임을 할래? (i geimeul hallae?)
    Do you want to play this game?
    B: 아니, 지금은 싫어. (ani, jigeumeun silheo)
    No, I don’t want to right now.

  • A: 이걸 도와줄래? (igeol dooajullae?)
    Can you help me with this?
    B: 아니, 지금은 바빠. (ani, jigeumeun babba)
    No, I’m busy right now.

  • A: 이걸 사랑해? (igeol saranghae?)
    Do you love this?
    B: 아니, 그냥 좋아해. (ani, geunyang johahae)
    No, I just like it.

  • A: 이 영화 재미있어? (i yeonghoa jaemiisseo?)
    Is this movie fun?
    B: 아니, 재미없어. (ani, jaemieobsseo)
    No, it’s not interesting.

The Different Ways to Say No in Korean

no in korean

One of the harsh ways to say no in Korean language is ‘불가능해요,’ (bulganeunghaeyo), which means ‘it’s impossible.’ If you prefer to say no in a more polite manner, you can start it with ‘죄송해요,’ (chuisonghaeyo), before continue with the reasons of your refusal.

For example, if someone asks if you want to get a coffee together and you don’t like it, you could say ‘죄송해요, 저는 커피 좋아하지 않아요,’ (chiosonghaeyo, joneun kkeopi johahaji anhayo), which means ‘I’m sorry, I don’t like coffee.’

What’s the difference between 아니요 (aniyo) and 아니에요 (anieyo)

no in korean

You might often hear similar words to 아니요 (aniyo) in your beloved korean dramas or korean movies, which is 아니에요 (anieyo). I believe you might think both are the same words, because it sound just so similar. However, truth is that both have slightly different meaning.

The word 아니에요 (anieyo) is use to expressed ‘It is not’. It still came from the root word 아니다 (anida), which means not. You can use 아니에요 (anieyo) or 아닙니다(animnida) to say It is not formally. If you want to say it informally, you can say 아니야 (aniya).

Examples of "아니에요" (anieyo)

Here’s some example of how you can use the word “아니에요” (anieyo).

  • A: 이 일을 해드릴까요? (i ileul haederilkkayo?)
    Can I do this work for you?
    B: 아니에요, 제가 할게요. (anieyo, jega halgeyo).
    No, I’ll do it


  • A: 이 계획을 실행할까요? (i gyehuigeul silhaenghalkkayo?)
    Should we execute this plan?
    B: 아니에요, 더 생각해 볼게요. (anieyo, deo saenggakhae bolgeyo).
    No, let’s think about it more.


  • A: 이 사람과 함께 사는거는 어떨까요? (i saramgua hamgye saneungeoneun eoddeolkkayo?)
    Should we live together with this person?
    B: 아니에요, 아직 준비가 되지 않았어요. (anieyo, ajig junbiga duiji anhasseoyo.)
    No, we’re not ready yet.


  • A: 이 여행을 갈까요? (i yeohaengeul kalkkayo?)
    Should we go on this trip?
    B: 아니에요, 돈이 없어요. (anieyo, duni eobsseoyo).
    No, we don’t have money


  • A: 이 일을 지금 할까요? (i ileul jigeum halkkayo?)
    Should we do this work now?
    B: 아니에요, 우리는 나중에 할게요. (anieyo, urineun najunge halgeyo).
    No, let’s do it later.

Navigating Social Situations When to Say No in Korean

no in korean

It can be difficult to know when to say no in Korean for foreigners and non-native Korean speakers. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you to know when it is appropriate.

In general, it is considered impolite to say no directly to someone in Korean. Instead, you should use indirect methods of saying no such as giving a reason why you cannot do something, or suggesting an alternative.

For example, if someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, you could say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that because I have other plans.’

There are also certain situations where it is more appropriate to say no directly. For instance, if someone offers you a cigarette and you don’t smoke, you can simply say no”without explanation.

How to decline invitations and offers in Korean

no in korean

One way to decline an invitation or request in Korean is to use a phrase such as ‘아니요, 아직 할 수 없어요’, (aniyo, ajik hal su eobsseoyo) which means ‘No, I can’t do it yet’. This phrase shows respect and politeness as you reject the offer.

Another way is to use a phrase such as ‘아니요, 다음에 할게요’ (aniyo, daeume halgeyo), which means ‘No, I’ll do it next time’, or ‘아니요, 나중에 할게요’ (aniyo, najunge halgeyo), which means ‘No, I’ll do it later.’ This phrase indicate that you are not available at the moment but might be available in the future. 

By being mindful of these little things, you will be able to appropriately refuse any request and offer without being offensive to the other people.

Understanding the cultural nuances of saying no in Korea

no in korean

Understanding the cultural nuances of saying no in Korea is crucial for communicating effectively and avoiding any misunderstandings while saying no to other people in Korean language.

Korean culture have a strong emphasis on maintaining social harmony and respect to each other, which can make it challenging to say no directly.

One important cultural nuance to be aware of is the use of indirect language. Instead of saying no directly, Koreans may use phrases like I can’t do it yet or I’ll do it later, which can indicate a refusal without being confrontational.

How to Respond to a Negative Statement in Korean

no in korean

When you are facing a negative conversation and you are unwilling to really listen, it is important to respond in a way that shows you are respectful to the other person.

Rather than just refuse and say you No, I don’t want to hear your complain, you might say something like, ‘죄송합니다. 무엇이 문제인가요?’ (chuisonghabnida. Mueosi munjeingayo?) which means ‘I’m sorry. What’s the problem?’.

By using this approach, you indicate to the other person that you want to understand their perspective while try to divert the conversation to the solution rather than the issues.

Mistakes to avoid when saying no in Korean

no in korean

One common mistake to avoid when saying no in Korean is too abruptly use ‘아니요’ (aniyo) or ‘아니’ (ani) without any ‘sorry’ or reasons why you refuse the offers. This can come across as rude and will cause the other person to feel hurt or disappointed.

Another mistake is forgetting the formal and honorific ways to say no when talk with other people. It’s important to remember the honorifics when communicating with others in Korean language.

By being mindful of these common mistake beginners made, you can avoid hurting other people when you refuse someone offer in Korean language.

How Do You Say No In Korean

In conclusion of how do you say no in korean, there are many ways to say ‘no’ in Korean. Knowing how to say no with respect and politeness is important for anyone who wants to be successful in their dealings with Koreans.

By familiarizing yourself with the different phrases and tones used, you can learn how to effectively express your opinion when it comes to saying no in the language while still maintaining a sense of courtesy.

Do you learn something new today from this article? Have you ever face the same kind of situation that we mentioned above? Let us know in the comment sections below!

no in korean
no in korean

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