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How to Say “No” Like a Native

Saying “no” is often a very hard thing to do – especially for Chinese people when dealing with acquaintances. This causes them to sometimes say “yes,” or other words, when they actually mean “no.” For this reason, you may find it is difficult to refuse food or drink in China, as it may seem that no one is taking your “no” for a real refusal. 

So today we will tell you how to say "no" in Chinese.

1.Refusal of invitations

1)gǎi tiān ba


     Maybe another day.

2)xià cì ba


      Maybe next time.

3)yǐhòu /huítóu zài shuō


     Talk about it later.

Sometimes, it is difficult to guess whether an invitation is real or merely a ritual one. In this case, a ritual refusal can be used to judge the real intention of the inviter. If the inviter doesn’t insist on inviting a second time, the first invitation can be interpreted as a ritual one, and declining is an appropriate way to respond. However, if the response of the inviter indicates that his invitation was serious, accepting the invitation is the appropriate way to respond.

2.Refusal of offers

1)búyòng le


     Not necessary.

2)tài máfán nǐ le


     It bothers you too much.

3)biémáng le


     Please do not bother.

Chinese people tend to decline gifts multiple times before finally accepting them. This is a ritualistic way to show modesty, and to avoid indications of personal greed. Usually, formulaic expressions of politeness will be used to refuse gifts ritually, such as “你太客气了。(Nǐ tài kèqì le.) You are being too kind.

3.Refusal of unsolicited suggestions

1)Wǒ kǎolǜ kǎolǜ


     I will think about it.

2)Wǒ xiǎngxiang ba


     I will think about it.

Unsolicited commercial suggestions are often used by salespeople or advertisements when suggesting a purchase. The social distance between the salesperson and the listener plays an important role in the refusals of commercial suggestions. When refusing commercial suggestions by strangers, a direct refusal is acceptable like “不要,谢谢。(Búyào, xièxie. No, thanks)”. When dealing with acquaintances, though, excuses and/or postponements such as “我考虑考虑。(Wǒ kǎolǜ kǎolǜ.)/我想想吧。(Wǒ xiǎngxiǎng ba.)” are often used.

4.Refusal of requests

1)Wǒ bú tài qīngchǔ


     I am not really sure.

If someone requests information or advice from someone who is not willing to give it, the person might employ a verbal avoidance strategy, such as switching the topic, postponement, or dodging the question, such as “我不太清楚。(Wǒ bú tài qīngchǔ.) I am not really sure.”

Source:Dig Mandarin


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