How to say “no” in Russian and not to offend anyone
Several ways to say “NO”
Today Anastasia Karausheva, Enjoy Russian School tutor, will share with l you secret techniques: how to reject and keep friendship.
Students who study in Enjoy Russian School usually live in host families and when it comes to food, they are always offered to eat more and more. Sometimes it is really hard to refuse, but if you do it in a polite way everyone will be satisfied.
I am full!
- First of all, try the simplest version: нет, спасибо, which means “no, thank you”, or you can also use нет, спасибо большое — “no, thank you very much”.
- If you would like to say that you are full and don’t want to eat any more you can just say спасибо, я больше не хочу.
- You can make your host a compliment about quality of food and say that it is enough for you: все было вкусно, но я больше не хочу.
Sorry, I have other things to do
When you are offered to go somewhere but you will be busy, you can say this phrase:
- Я хотел(a) бы … (+perfective aspect of a verb, infinitive — пообедать с тобой/погулять/сходить в кино), нo я занят.
- Besides, it would be nice to suggest going there next time: может быть, в следующий раз.
- It is also possible to say that you don’t have an opportunity to go this very day: не сегодня, спасибо. Боюсь, что я не могу is a good phrase too and it means “I am afraid I can’t”.
- If you are pressed for time you can say к сожалению, у меня нет времени — “unfortunately, I have no time” or when you are in a hurry the best way to say it will be извините, но я тороплюсь. Я бы очень хотел(a) … (+perfective aspect of a verb, infinitive — пойти в театр/пойти за покупками/пойти в гости), но у меня дела makes sense too and shows that you a very polite person who can say “no” if necessary.
When you are in a bad mood
Sometimes you don’t feel like going somewhere and this day you would love to stay at home, watch a movie or learn Russian numerals.
- In this case you can simply say у меня нет настроения, which means “I am not in the mood of doing something”.
- Apart from that, people usually announce that they don’t want to do anything right now, for example мне не хочется (+imperfective aspect of the verb, infinitive — делать домашнее задание/идти на экскурсию/готовить еду).
- One more way to express that you are unwilling to do something is у меня нет желания. Here you state that you don’t have a desire to join your friends and have fun.
Perhaps you have already heard that Russians have a very weird phrase to show uncertainty: да нет, наверное, and it is translated as “yes, no, maybe”. Actually people use it just to say maybe — может быть.
- If you need time to understand if you want to go or not, the followong phrases can come in handy: я еще не решил(а), which means “a haven’t decided yet” or я не уверен(a) — “Ι am not sure”.
- If you want to say that you will think about it, use я не могу дать вам ответ сейчас, because its direct translation is “I can’t give you an answer now”. A very common phrase is я подумаю над этим and it is for “I will think about it”.
Now you know how to reject an offer in Russian in a polite way and to ask for some time to think about it. All these phrases are very typical and quite universal so you can use them in different situations when you need to refuse or reject someone’s offer.
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