Survival Japanese: Saying "no"

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This may actually be more difficult than it seems. Japanese tends to take the long way around when it comes to turning down somebody. This might not be a case of ambiguity, but rather, just a choice of words.

O kiyaku sama ikaga desuka?
So what do you think? (A store clerk to a customer)

so desu ne, chotto...
Well, I'm not sure = no thanks

ano sa, kiyo wa isho ni eiga mini ikanai?
Hey, you wanna catch a flick today?

gomen, kiyo wa chotto...
Sorry, today is a little... = no thanks.

Chotto literally means “well...” And almost always refers to the negative meaning. It is very useful and can get you out of many engagements with friends if necessary. If you want to flat out turn down somebody, there is a way.NHK salesman.

sumimamen, kon getsu no NHK daikin onegaishimasu.
Excuuse me, please pay your NHK fee for this month.

NHK wa mittenaiyo. Daikin wo haraimasen
I don't watch NHK. I will not pay the fee.


kekko desu.
No thanks

Kekko desu, is also a very versatile way of saying no. For instance, it can be used if the staff McDonalds asks if you want additional ketchup and you say no thanks. You can also turn down a date using kekko desu.

Not needed IE.

hei sha no ho ken ni hairimasuka?
Would you like to join our insurance company?

Not needed.

bunka Bonus
Cultural Bonus

chotto kangaemasu.
I'm going to think about it. (in response to a clerk asking you how you liked it)

★In Tokyo, ちょっと考えます really means “Please let me think about this.”
★But in Osaka, it actually takes a negative meaning (it is a polite way to say “get out of my face”).
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