You might think the saying “yes” and also “no” would be the easiest thing you learn in a language. In Japanese, you probably learned the pretty quick. “Yes” is certainly easy. You’ve gained hai (はい) when you desire to it is in polite and un (うん) as soon as you’re being much more casual. Then you may have learned the you can say “no” with iie (いいえ), iya (いや), or uun (ううん). These words all work-related for saying “no,” yet the indirectness the the Japanese language have the right to make discovering when and also how to say “no” nice difficult, especially when friend are finding out Japanese online. - YouTube Premium MemberShip


1 just how to to speak “No” in Japanese1.1 NO in Japanese 1 : the Sweet Hand Motion.1.6 NO in Japanese 6 :“That’s kinda…”3 Why Is This Important?5 Recommend

How come Say “No” in Japanese


Let’s look at a couple of situations as soon as you may want to say “no” in a much more indirect type of way in bespeak to display respect and also understanding that Japanese culture.

NO in Japanese 1 : that Sweet Hand Motion.

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One point you might not have learned through examining Japanese digital or top top your very own is the hand motion for speak “no.” Yes, there is a hand motion. Yes, the is an extremely useful. Yes, when you discover it, friend will always do it because that the rest of your life, even when speak English. I also do it as soon as I speak Chinese. Ns not certain if that’s right. But I do.

The hand motion is an easy enough. Host your hand up perpendicular to her face, like you’re going to karate chop something. Then relocate your hand left and right in a waving motion. Congratulations! You just said no in Japanese!

This hand activity is a nonverbal authorize for “no” in Japanese. Also if you nothing say anything, you have the right to use this to connect the word “no,” even throughout a room native someone. Girlfriend don’t must shake her head, because the hand authorize is enough.

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NO in Japanese 2 :“No, no.”

If you desire to be polite (which is really great to do), you should try to make sure you never simply say “no.” saying iie (いいえ) in Japanese ~ above its own can sound a little harsh. This doesn’t really fit due to the fact that iie (いいえ) is much more polite 보다 iya (いや) and uun (ううん). You have the right to say those ones on their own, however know the they sound a little less polite, and iya (いや) can come turn off as an especially blunt.

It’s better to group iie into pairs of iieiie (いいえいいえ) as soon as using the on that own. This take away the edge off of it when you want to say no a bit an ext gently. You have the right to use this words on your own and also not sound harsh if girlfriend tack some kind of explanation top top the end of them. Rather of saying a flat “no” as soon as someone asks if your friend is American, you deserve to say something like, “Uun, furansu jin da yo.” (ううん、フランス人だよ) or “No, he is French.” This sound a lot much better than just saying iie and also leaving that there.

NO in Japanese 3 :“It is different.”

If someone provides you information, and you understand it’s wrong, a good way to tell them the is using the verb chigau (違う). This indigenous literally method something follow me the lines of “It is different,” for this reason it deserve to be a soft method to exactly someone. This is likewise kind of a means to avoid blaming someone. In English, we could be an ext likely to say “You’re wrong,” where this indigenous is putting emphasis on the correct answer gift different, not the human being wrong.

Chigau can likewise be made an ext polite by conjugating it right into chigaimasu (違います), and it can additionally take among our simple words because that “no” in front of it. You deserve to be nice polite once you tell someone they space wrong if you say something like, “Iie, chigaimasu. Watashi wa amerika jin desu.” (いいえ、違います。私はアメリカ人です。) or “No, that’s no right. Ns American.

NO in Japanese 4 :“No, i’m alright.”

There space some instances in Japanese society where you must say no, at the very least the first pair times. One large situation is when someone uses you something. If they room holding a cake out to you and saying, “Please eat this cake,” you room socially obligated come say no. No issue how great that cake looks or how hungry you are, the correct answer is no. You might be thinking, “But what if ns really want the cake??” don’t worry.

They will sell the cake again.

Yes, 99% that the time, the human offering friend something will offer it again. Castle will more than likely be an ext insistent, saying things favor “Douzo,” over and also over again. You must look at that cake, think about how lot you desire to eat it, and also refuse again. Now you may be yes, really concerned. How are you going to obtain this cake if friend keep turning it down? You may be saying, “No, ns alright,” however you don’t have the cake. How have the right to you it is in alright? once do you obtain the cake? your hand is waving no, but your love is informing you the you have actually missed an possibility for delicious cake.

And then they will market the cake again.

It is now, on this 3rd offer, that you can accept the cake v humble gratitude. This is a social thing that can certainly be difficult to discover when discovering Japanese online. But it’s additionally really important. In this situation, if you accepted the cake the very first time it to be offered, you can come throughout as very rude. I once made this failure when readily available ice cream, and the pair that available it laughed and asked me how fat ns had acquired in Japan. Agree something top top the an initial offer is just a tiny too direct for Japanese culture. Follow the dominance of accepting things on the third offer, and also you need to be just fine. Except there might be that 1% the will only offer miscellaneous once, usually since they view you no Japanese, and also they room trying to adhere come your culture instead.

NO in Japanese 5 :“It’s not that ns don’t prefer it, but…”

Now the following question is, what if friend don’t choose cake? What if someone offers you something, and also you yes, really don’t desire it? just how do you actually rotate something under without coming throughout as rude?

The price is to it is in indirect. One of the most helpful phrases i learned for transforming down food offerings was “Kirai jya nai desu kedo…” (嫌いじゃないですけど…) or “It’s not that i don’t prefer it, but…” despite this translation, this sentence usually tells the listener that you don’t like something. It’s so indirect, that literally has the opposite an interpretation of what you are trying to say.

You can generally give an explanation like this when something is offered to you because that the 2nd time. It’s polite to just refuse other the first time, but once it is available again, if you really don’t desire it, friend can give a little explanation like this and also they will protect against offering it to you.

NO in Japanese 6 :“That’s kinda…”

Being indirect isn’t simply a method to speak no to food you nothing like. You can say no indirectly by using incomplete sentences and letting the listener infer your reasoning based on context. Because that example, if her friend asks friend to walk to a concert through her tomorrow, and you one of two people can’t go or don’t want to, you can tell she no just by saying something like, “Ashita wa…” (明日は…) or “Tomorrow is…” indigenous this, she can guess the you are already busy. Probably you have household obligations, perhaps you’re taking your goldfish come the vet, or probably you simply want come roll around on the floor and watch TV instead. You don’t really need to offer her a direct explanation due to the fact that she will simply assume you can’t go.


You can also throw other words in the mix prefer chotto (ちょっと) if you are being a bit less formal. If you’re act a group project and also your partner asks you to compose the entire ten page essay through tomorrow and also you know there’s absolutely no way that’s going to happen, you have the right to say other like, “Sore wa chotto…” (それはちょっと…) which would translate to “That’s kinda…” or “That’s a little…” your partner can guess whether you were going to end up that sentence v “…not fair.” or probably “…not gonna happen.” or also “…impossible.” girlfriend don’t have to be the direct. Her indirectness and also tone will certainly tell lock the price is no.

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“No, no, no~”

Another interesting instance where friend should absolutely learn to say no is once someone tries to provide you a compliment. This is kind of like when someone offers you food, other than it is polite to constantly refuse to expropriate compliments.

The Japanese language is large on humility. Once you speak, you always want come elevate the listener and also keep yourself reduced than them. It’s just simple Japanese etiquette. So once someone praises friend or supplies you a compliment, you must refuse it.

There’s no need to be dramatic when refusing a compliment, and also refusing that correctly have the right to actually display the human being you room grateful because that the compliment, even if you don’t sound choose it.

So as soon as someone gives you a compliment, every you should do is wave your hand in that beneficial gesture because that no (this is to swat away any kind of compliments before they stick to you) and say, “Iie, iie, iie,” or “No, no, no.” For part reason, compliment refusals favor this come in groups of three no’s.

If you say “Thank you,” to a compliment, you’ll come across as type of prideful. This goes against what most English speaker learn. Compliments are nice and make human being happy, so why wouldn’t you give thanks to someone for a compliment? Don’t execute it in Japanese. It makes you sound weird and also maybe even a bit complete of you yourself if you no careful.

The opposite also doesn’t work-related well. If you shot too tough to fight versus a compliment, someone might think you nothing really expropriate it. If they speak something choose “Wow, you must be a really good cook,” and also you answer “No, i’m the worst chef in the whole world,” lock will most likely think you really think that and also didn’t accept their compliment. Vice versa, if you just say “No, no, no,” and also maybe blush a small bit, they’ll recognize you really evaluate the compliment.

Negative Questions

In English, yes a huge problem with negative questions. Exactly how do friend answer them? If who asks you, “Do you not prefer tomatoes?” what is the correct means to prize that? If you say yes, walk that typical you execute or don’t like tomatoes? What if you speak no? climate you obtain into dual negatives i beg your pardon are even worse. Obviously, over there are etymological answers to all these questions, yet most of united state get puzzled by these types of questions.

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Luckily because that us, Japanese doesn’t have this problem. However it might be a small counterintuitive because that a native English speaker.

When someone asks you a an adverse question in Japanese, comment “yes” will certainly confirm it and also “no” will certainly deny it.

So to take our tomato instance from above, in Japanese someone may ask you, “Tomato ga suki jya nai no?” (トマトが好きじゃないの?). If you answer “Hai,” you room saying “Yes, I execute not choose tomatoes.” If you say “Uun,” you room saying “No, I carry out like tomatoes.” girlfriend can likewise clarify if you room uncertain by actually saying whether or no you like them after comment yes or no.

Why Is This Important?

When she learning another language, a big chunk of the is walk to be learning one more culture. And also when you discover a language choose Japanese online, it’s specifically important to discover those cultural quirks so girlfriend don’t feeling awkward or the end of place when you lastly get to talk to native Japanese speakers in person.

Simple things, prefer knowing exactly how to to speak “no,” have the right to really aid you feel an ext comfortable with the language. It deserve to also assist you understand much better how the Japanese think and also why they may say the points they say. A most these instances aren’t the very same as what a aboriginal English speaker could do, for this reason it’s vital to be acquainted with them to really acquire a grasp on Japanese.

Something as straightforward as learning exactly how to to speak no can assist you take her Japanese to the following level and assist your Japanese sound closer to what indigenous speakers use.

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