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How to say “No” in English politely?

In this lesson, we will learn the way to say “No” in English. Do you find yourself saying “Yes” when you really want to say “No”? We are sure you do. We can really please everyone. Let’s have a look at some ways to say “No”.

Directly saying “No” can really sound rude, so what are the simpler ways to say “No” politely? Let’s have a look to some situations that you may commonly come across. How would you deny to certain situations?

Saying “no” to a request politely

People sometimes come and ask you to do something. What would you do if you can’t go? You can’t really say a direct “No”. Use these expressions to deny politely:

I wish I could help you …
I’d love to help you, but …
Unfortunately, now is not a good time.


A: Could you help me to plant the tree in the garden?
B: I’d love to help you but I’m really busy with the presentation that I have tomorrow. 

You can also add an apology “I’m so sorry.”

A: Could you do me a favor to repair the car?
B: I wish I could help but I’m very busy right now. I am so sorry.

You can say that it’s not the right time to help them.

A: I wonder if you could help me to carry these things?
B: Unfortunately, now is not a good time for me. I am really sorry.

Learn more: 11 useful phrases to ask for help


Saying “no” to an offer politely

When you receipt an offer, you can either accept or refuse it. What are the best ways to say “No” in a polite manner so that you don’t hurt other people? You might use these expressions to do so.

Thank you for the offer, but…
That would be great, but…
I appreciate the offer, but…


Thank you for the offer, but my husband is coming to pick me up in a few minutes.

The best way to refuse an offer is to give a reason. You should say why you cannot accept the offer.

I appreciate the offer, but I have to take my family on a vacation this weekend. I’m so sorry about that.

Sometimes, you can answer with another offer.

That would be great, but I am going to have a BBQ with my friends this afternoon. Why don’t you come and join the BBQ with us?

Learn more: Do you want something to drink?


Denying an invitation politely

When you receive an invitation to an event, a party, a movie … you might use these expressions to say “no” politely.

I wish I could come, but unfortunately…
I really appreciate the invitation, but…
That sounds great but…


A: We would like to invite you to our wedding party on this Sunday.
Wow, that sounds great but I’m moving my house to another city this weekend. Happy wedding!

B: I wish I could come but unfortunately I am visiting my parents on this Sunday.

B: I really appreciate the invitation, but I have to go on a business trip from Friday to Sunday this week.

Again, you show that you’re being nice, you’re being polite and you don’t directly say “No”. You can reply the other person very politely and just give a reason to the invitation.

Learn more:

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