S3 Ep10: So many ways to say “NO” in Korean 한국어로 “No”를 말하는 너무 많은 방법들

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시즌3 10화. 한국어로 “No”를 말하는 너무 많은 방법들

S3 EP10. So many ways to say “No” in Korean


안녕하세요?  잘 지냈어요?  It is your host of the Korean study café, Vanessa.

Have you ever thought that some parts of English subtitles are different from what you learned when watching Korean dramas?

It is more likely that the simpler the expression, you would have felt this way often.

For the same reason, one of my students asked me about the numerous expressions to say “No” in Korean.

Here’s what happened to her. She’s learned Korean for a year, so she knows how to say “No” in Korean, even depending on the situation where she has to speak formally or casually. That’s 아니요 or 아니. But she watched the drama titled 스물다섯, 스물하나 twenty-five, twenty-one on Netflix; she noticed that even though the actor says 싫어 that should mean something else, but the caption says, “No.” So she thought that must be a mistake of the caption maker. But she noticed that every time actors say 싫어 or 싫어요, the caption was always the same as No.

So she thought she didn’t learn all aspects of how to say No, or there was something else she didn’t know precisely, so she brought it to my attention.

Has this ever happened to you as well? I am sure you might experience similar situations while watching Korean dramas or shows. If you did, please feel free to leave a message on our Instagram, and I will respond to your questions in future podcast episodes.

Today, let’s figure out how to properly say “No” in Korean, depending on the situation.

I am sure you already know how to say “No” in Korean. Yes! That is it! 아니요 if you have to speak formally or 아니 if you can speak casually. That is the basic way to say “No” in Korean. 

Like this,

ㄱ: 혹시 너 도마뱀 키우고 싶어?

ㄴ: 아니, 나 도마뱀 정말 싫어해.

A: Do you want to have a lizard as a pet?

B: No, I really hate lizards.

Did you hear that? Here 아니 simply means No. So when someone asks you a question, and if you want to say “No,” this is the right word.

However, there are other ways to say No in Korean as well.

Actually, there are three more.

The next one is “아니에요” (honorific expression) or “아니야” (casual expression). Have you ever heard this expression from somewhere? You probably heard this here and there.

The English translation should be just No in most cases, but it’s slightly different from the regular No in English. This expression is derived from one of the basic verbs, “아니다 to be not.”

So the exact meaning of this expression 아니에요 and 아니야 is “It is not” or “I am not,” “You are not,” “He is not,”… etc. When we have to answer like “No, it’s not” or “No, I am not” in Korean, we just simply say “아니에요 / 아니야 It’s not, or I’m not”. So when someone tries to find out from you if something is true or not, and if it’s not the case, you can answer with this expression 아니에요 / 아니야.

So if you listen to the example, you will understand this much better. Let’s hear them together.

A: 지나 씨, 영훈 씨 여자친구예요? 어제 제 친구가 두 분이 사귄다고 저한테 말했어요.

B: 아니에요. 우리 안 사겨요. 

A: Hey Gina, Are you Younghoon’s girlfriend? Yesterday, my friend told me that you two are dating.

B: No. (I’m not his girlfriend) we are not dating.

A: 이 음식 네가 만들었어? 이거 완전 맛없어…

B: 아니야~ 내가 안 했어. 지훈이가 만들었어.

A: Did you make this food? This is absolutely awful(no taste)…

B: No~ (It’s not the food that I made) I didn’t. Jihoon made it

Did that sound clear to you? All right, then the next one is 안돼요(honorific expression) or 안돼(casual expression). You probably heard this as well. This one is also usually translated into English just as No, but it is only partially correct.

안돼요 / 안돼’s exact meaning is “Don’t do something” because this expression is derived from the verb 안 되다 (You cannot do it / when you want to prohibit or limit someone to do something) So whenever you want to answer like “No, you cannot do that or No, don’t do it,” then you can just say 안돼요 / 안돼.

When you don’t want to allow the other to do something, you can use this expression.

To understand this better, let’s hear some situations.

ㄱ: 엄마, 이거 먹어도 돼요?

ㄴ: 안돼! 그거 먹지마. 그거 이미 상했어. 먹으면 배 아플거야.

A: Mom, can I eat this?

B: No! don’t eat that. It’s already spoiled. If you eat it, your stomach will hurt.

ㄱ: 이 보고서에 이 그림을 넣고 싶어요. 이거 넣으면, 사장님도 내용을 더 잘 이해할 것 같아요.  

ㄴ: 안돼요. 사장님은 보고서에 그림 있는걸 싫어해요. 

A: I want to include this picture in this report. If you put this in, I think the boss will understand the content better.

B: No. Don’t do that. CEO hates having pictures in the report.

How about that? So far, so good? All right, then now let’s see the last expression that is usually translated into English as No. That’s 싫어요(honorific expression) and 싫어(casual expression), which actually means “No, I don’t want to do it, or I don’t want it,” or sometimes it can mean “No, I am not going to do it.” or “I hate it” as well.

This expression is derived from the verb “싫다,” which originally means “to be unsatisfying, unsatisfied, disagreeable, to disagree.” So when someone asks/orders/suggests you do something and you don’t want to do it, or you are not going to do it because you hate it, then you can just say 싫어요 / 싫어.

Again, let’s hear some situations to better understand this expression’s meaning.

ㄱ: 어제는 네 동생이 여기 청소했으니까, 오늘은 네가 청소해.

ㄴ: 싫어요. 제가 지난 주 내내 청소했어요. 이건 불공평해요.

A: Your brother cleaned it yesterday, so you need to clean it today.

B: No, I don’t want to. I cleaned it throughout all last week. This is unfair.

ㄱ: 야, 우리 노래방 갈래?

ㄴ: 싫어, 나 노래 부르는 거 안 좋아해.  

A: Hey, do you want to go to karaoke?

B: No, I don’t like to sing.

All right, how was it? Did you understand all the expressions’ meanings here? If you still struggle to understand some parts, please just send me DM through our Instagram “koreanstudycafe.official”

Also, if you have any questions about some other Korean expressions you just don’t understand completely, just ask me those as well by sending DM as well. 🙂

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