In this article, we will teach you how to say “no” in Korean. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll better understand how to use this word, especially during negative situations.
We’ve also included a FREE PDF version of this lesson you can take with you on the go. Check it out below:
How to say “no” in Korean
In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Mr. Bean travels to France but only knows the French word for “yes.” His inability to say “no” causes all sorts of mishaps. To ensure that your stay in Korea doesn’t end up like Mr. Bean’s trip to France, make sure you know how to say “no” in Korean!
Below are the different ways to say “no” in Korean. But before that, here’s a video lesson that you can watch.
Formal and Standard “No” in Korean
In Korean, the words below are used to say “no” in both formal and standard forms.
1. 아니요 (aniyo)
You can use this word in both formal and standard Korean. The word can be used by itself.
Some alternate spellings that you might see are 아니오 (anio) and 아뇨 (anyo). These mean the same thing but the correct spelling is 아니요 (aniyo). Therefore, use this spelling when you use the word.
A: 김치를 좋아해요? (gimchireul joahaeyo)
Do you like gimchi?
B: 아니요, 싫어해요. (aniyo, sileohaeyo)
No, I don’t [literally – no, I don’t like it]
2. 아니오 (anio)
This is the old style of saying “no,” often used in traditional Korean dramas. It’s part of an older style of speaking.
A: 바쁘세요? (bappeuseyo)
Are you busy?
B: 아니오. (anio)
You may hear the “오 (o)” endings in examples like “기다려 주십시오 (gidaryeo jusipsio)”.
Informal “No” in Korean
You can use this when talking to somebody very close to you and of a similar or younger age to you.
1. 아니 (ani)
If you want to speak informally, you can drop the 요 from the end of the word.
A: 김치를 좋아해? (gimchireul joahae)
Do you like gimchi?
B: 아니, 싫어해! (ani, sileogaehae)
No, I don’t [literally – no, I hate it]
How to say “it is not” in Korean
Many people get confused about 아니요 (aniyo) and 아니에요 (anieyo) when learning Korean.
아니 (ani) means “no”,
아니다 (anida) means “not”.
The word 아니다 (anida) changes to 아니에요(anieyo) or 아닙니다(animnida) when speaking formally. It changes to 아니야 (aniya) when speaking informally.
A: 일본사람입니까? (ilbonsaramimnikka)
Are you Japanese?
B: 아니요, 일본사람 아닙니다. (aniyo, ilbonsaram animnida)
No, I’m not Japanese.
A: 영국사람이에요? (yeongguksaramieyo)
Are you British?
B: 아니요, 영국사람 아니에요. (aniyo, yeongguksaram anieyo)
No, I’m not British.
A: 중국사람이야? (jungguksaramiya)
Are you Chinese?
B: 아니, 중국사람 아니야 (ani, jungguksaram aniya)
No, I’m not Chinese.
Other ways to say “no” in Korean
Like the word “yes,” there are ways of saying “no” without using the actual word for “no.” Read the bonus section at the end of this article to learn some of these ways of saying “no.”
By now, you should know how to say NO in Korean. However, in the Korean language, there are many other words and phrases that would be written as “no” if they were translated into English. Below are some of the more common examples. All of the examples are at the standard politeness level.
1. “It is not allowed” in Korean
If you want to say “no” in Korean when you want to emphasize that something isn’t allowed, you can use the word 안돼요 (andwaeyo).
A: 맥주를 주세요 (maekjureul juseyo)
B: 안돼요! (andwaeyo)
No [literally – it’s not allowed]
2. “I can’t do it” in Korean
If you want to express that you can’t do a certain thing, you can say 못해요 (mothaeyo).
A: 수영할 수 있어요? (suyeonghal su isseoyo)
Can you swim?
B: 못해요 (mothaeyo)
No [literally – I can’t]
3. “It doesn’t exist” in Korean
Lastly, if you want to say “no” when responding to a question if you have something or not, you can use the word 없어요 (eopseoyo). This means that you don’t have it, or the thing does not exist.
A: 현금이 있어요? (hyeongeumi isseoyo)
Do you have any cash?
B: 없어요 (eopseoyo)
No [literally – it doesn’t exist]
A Word of Caution About Romanization
However, the English representation of Korean words can be pretty confusing! It often frustrates Korean learners since there are so many interpretations of how to pronounce romanized words.
The sooner you can get past romanization and reading Hangul, the faster you’ll be able to learn Korean!
We hope by now you’ll be able to say “no” in Korean, especially when the need arises. Keep listening to how Koreans answer questions negatively to help you understand how to say “no” in different situations.