The Power of “No in Russian”. 5 Best Ways to Refuse.


Here I’ll teach you how to say No in Russian in various ways. I’ll also reveal the meaning of the popular Russian answer, that is often translated into English as “yes no maybe”. And of course, I’m not going to leave you without a quiz, that will help you to learn to say Russian “no” in 5 different ways.

How to Say No in Russian

To say No in Russian you can use one of the following options:

In Russian In English Audio Pronunciation Where to use
Нет No
Njet Formal/Informal
Не No
Nje Informal
Неа Nope
Njea Informal
Ни за что No way
Ni-za-shtо́ Formal/Informal
Ни в коем случае Definitely not
Ni f kо́em slú–chae Formal/Informal

The universal equivalent to the English “no” is Нет. When you use it as refuse, add Спасибо (thank you) to be polite.

Another word, Неа is a very informal version of Нет. You can hear it very often in usual talks, and sometimes, in movies on YouTube and so on.

The word Не is also a reduced form of Нет, used in casual speech:

  • Хочешь мороженного? (Wanna ice-cream?)
  • Не, не хочу. (No, I don’t want).

When you want to express strong disagreement you can say Ни за что. The stress in the whole phrase falls on the last sound.

  • Ты пойдешь на вечеринку? (Will you go at a party?)
  • Ни за что. Я слишком сильно устала. (No way. I’m too tired).

Another strong Russian No phrase, Ни в коем случае is used more often when you forbid someone doing something:

  • Мам, можно подойти туда? (Mom, may I come over there?)
  • Ни в коем случае! Это очень опасно!

Yes, No or Maybe

That is true, that on a simple question “Wanna cup of tea?” a Russian speaker can reply: “Да нет, наверное”, that can be interpreted as “Yes no, maybe”. Also, the weirdest thing is that there’s no mistake or contradiction here. Let me explain.

In this context, the word “да” doesn’t mean “yes”, it’s just a connecting interjection that doesn’t have its own meaning. The word “наверное” (maybe) expresses uncertainty in the made decision. And the core of the phrase – “нет” – is the answer to the question. So, the proper translation would be something like: “Well, probably no”:

  • Ты зайдешь? (Will you come in?)
  • Да нет, наверное, спасибо. (Well, I think no, thank you.)

Similarly, you can receive the reply “Да нет” (which may be misinterpreted as “yes, no”). In this case, your respondent will mean “no” and use “да” for more emotional expression:

  • Ты не согласен? (Are you disagree?)
  • Да нет, я согласен! (No, I agree!)

Here it is, the tricky Russian language! Now go straight to the No in Russian Quiz to make sure that you remember all the new info from the article!

[ld_quiz quiz_id=”4700″]

Helpful Resources

  1. Here, you can find more examples with the word “нет”
  2. At this site, you’ll find a video with different vocal examples of  No in Russian

Anastasia Korol

Anastasia Korol is an enthusiastic Russian language tutor. She gives effective, goal-oriented lessons to students all over the world. Thousands of people have already followed her Instagram.

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