Did you know that there are MANY different ways to say ‘no way’ in Spanish?
Depending on which Spanish-speaking country you’re in, you’ll likely come across a number of local variants too.
In the specific case of Mexico, there are even some expressions that may seem a little strange (I´m looking at you ‘ni madres’)!
Anyway, that’s enough chit-chat … let’s get into all the different ways to say ‘no way’ in Spanish!
Erika´s note – we’ve included both formal phrases and everyday slang in this list, to make sure you’ll have something up your sleeve in every conceivable situation!
De ninguna manera / No hay manera – No way / There’s no way
The literal translation of ‘(there’s) no way’ in Spanish would be ‘de ninguna manera’ or the ever-so slightly easier on the tongue, ‘no hay manera’.
Both expressions can be used in most situations (i.e., both casual and formal)
De ninguna manera pienso asistir a la fiesta con estos zapatos viejos.
There´s no way I´m going to the party in these old shoes.
David – Voy a Cancún un par de días.
Beatriz – ¡De ninguna manera! Es el cumple de tu hijo.
David – I´m going to Cancun for a few days.
Beatriz – No way! It´s your son’s birthday.
En la oficina
Gerente – No terminamos de revisar los informes del día de hoy.
Empleado – No hay manera de que me pueda quedar horas extras para terminar el trabajo.
At the office
Manager – We haven’t finished reviewing today’s reports.
Employee – There’s no way I’m staying overtime to finish them.
Bajo ninguna circunstancia – Absolutely not / Under no circumstances
A common synonym of ‘no way’ in English is ‘absolutely not!’, which in Spanish literally translates as ‘¡absolutamente no!’.
Unfortunately, literal translations aren’t always the most accurate (I´m speaking from experience!) and this one isn’t used all that much by native Spanish speakers!
A much closer and more commonly used equivalent would be ‘bajo ninguna circunstancia’.
What makes this one stand out from many of the other phrases on this list is that when you say ‘bajo ninguna circunstancia’, you literally leave no room for any other possibility (just like when we say ‘absolutely not!’ in English)!
Here’s an example –
Karla – Papá, ¿puedo quedarme a dormir en casa de mi novio?
Papá – ¡Bajo ninguna circunstancia!
Karla – Dad, can I sleep over at my boyfriend’s place?
Dad – Absolutely not!
‘Bajo ninguna circunstancia‘ can also be used to tell someone that something is prohibited / not allowed –
¡Bajo ninguna circunstancia puedes dormir en la misma cama que tu novio!
Under no circumstances can you sleep in the same bed as your boyfriend!
De ningún modo / De ninguna forma – (there’s) no way
Both ‘forma’ and ‘modo’ are synonyms of ‘manera’. In fact, Spanish speakers tend to use these three nouns interchangeably without making any real distinction between them.
Saying ‘de ningún modo’ or ‘de ninguna forma’ is quite natural in both formal and informal conversation, as are the abbreviations ‘no hay modo’ and ‘no hay forma’.
Let´s look at some examples –
No hay modo de que pueda ayudarte con tu tarea.
There’s no way I can help you with your homework.
No hay forma de que podamos llegar a tiempo al partido.
There’s no way we can get to the game on time.
¿Prestarte dinero? De ninguna forma, güey.
Lend you money? No way, dude.
¿Piensas beber antes de la boda? De ningun modo, Paloma.
You’re planning on drinking before the wedding? No way, Paloma.
Ni de pedo, wey – No way, dude
Here’s a funny one! ‘Ni de pedo’ is a typical colloquialism used in Mexico, as well as in Argentina, Peru, Spain, and a number of other Spanish-speaking countries.
The word ‘pedo’ can mean two things: ‘a fart’ (eugh!) and ‘drunk’ (as in too much alcohol, NOT the past participle of ‘drink’!). In this case we´re referring to the second use: ‘drunk’ or ‘wasted’.
If you say ‘ni de pedo’, you´re basically implying that not even when drunk, would you be able / willing to perform the action in question.
Remember to stick a ‘wey’ (‘dude’) at the end if you’re in Mexico and want to sound like a local!
Mishel – ¿Vamos al cine?
Óscar – Sí, pero ni de pedo voy a ver una película de terror.
Mishel – Do you wanna go to the movies?
Óscar – Yeah, but there’s no way I’m going to watch a horror movie.
Sometimes the preposition ‘de’ can be changed to ‘en’ … but fret not, this doesn´t alter the meaning of the sentence in any way, shape, or form!
Mónica – ¿Nos aventamos del paracaídas?
Raúl – Ni en pedo, wey!
Monica – Shall we go skydiving
Raúl – No way, dude!
Erika’s top tip – if you wanna learn more Mexican slang, be sure to check out our epic guide on all the different Mexican euphemisms!
¡Ni lo sueñes! – Don’t even think about it!
Another colloquial way of saying ‘no way’ is ‘¡ni lo sueñes!’. It translates to something along the lines of ‘don’t even think about it’.
You can also use the variant ‘ni en tus sueños’ which is similar to the English ‘in your dreams’.
Paco – ¿me das un beso?
Mariana – ¡Ni lo sueñes, Paco!
Paco – Can I have a kiss?
Mariana – Don´t even think about it, Paco!
Paco – ¿Quieres ser mi novia?
Mariana – ¡Ni en tus sueños, Paco!
Paco – Do you wanna be my girlfriend?
Mariana – In your dreams, Paco!
(… poor old Paco!)
¡Ni madres! – No frigging way!
Of all the different ways to say ‘no way’, this one is without a doubt the phrase that best represents Mexico and is probably the most used in everyday Mexican Spanish.
The word ‘madre’ has a very strong cultural connotation for Mexicans. It literally means ‘mother’ but it´s also commonly used in a number of different slang terms, both friendly and offensive.
For example, you may have heard expressions like ‘me caes a toda madre’ which means ‘you´re a very cool person’ / ‘I really like you’, or the super common ‘a toda madre’, which is used to say that you like something a lot.
And what about ‘ni madres’?
Well, the expression ‘ni madres’ basically establishes in the most absolute way possible that you´re not going to do something.
If you say ‘ni madres‘, you´re making it absolutely clear that you´re not going to do what is being asked or suggested under any circumstances.
The interesting thing about this phrase is that it can be said both in anger AND in a more friendly / playful way.
Just make sure you know the people you’re with really well before trying this one out for size as it can be extremely offensive when said in the wrong context / situation.
Oh, and definitely don´t use it in the workplace!
En la fiesta de Frida
Ricardo – ¡Qué pedo … vamos a tomarnos otra botella de tequila!
Arturo – ¡Ni madres! Ya estoy muy borracho.
At Frida’s party
Ricardo – What’s up … let’s have another bottle of tequila!
Arturo – No way! I´m already super drunk.
Samanta – Me voy a ir de viaje el fin de semana.
Papá – ¡Ni madres! No vas, estás castigada.
Samanta – I’m going away for the weekend.
Dad – No way! You’re not going, you’re grounded.
Erika’s note – we’ve actually compiled a list of ALL the Mexican slang terms with ‘madre’. Be sure to check it out!
¡Olvídalo! – Forget it!
This one’s the Spanish version of ‘forget it’.
Like its English equivalent, it’s often used as a short and practical way to end a discussion.
‘Olvídalo’ is quite informal in nature as you´re only likely to be using it when arguing / disagreeing with someone you know pretty well (you wouldn´t tell your boss to ‘forget it’, would you?!).
Carlitos – ¿Me compras otro helado?
Mamá – ¡Olvídalo!
Carlitos – Can you buy me another ice cream?
Mom – Forget it!
¡No me digas! / ¡No inventes! – No way! (denoting surprise)
These are the only phrases on the list that aren´t used as an emphatic way of saying no.
If you´re surprised by something which has been said / done, you can use ‘no me digas’ and ‘no inventes’ to express this (just like ‘no way’ in English).
The two can be used interchangeably in this context.
Bety – ¿Sabías que Ramón y Marta se divorciaron?
Pepe – ¡No me digas!
Bety – Did you know that Ramón and Marta got divorced?
Pepe – No way!
¡Ni hablar! – Absolutely no way! / Out of the question!
This one literally translates to ‘don´t even talk’ and it means something along the lines of ‘out of the question’. It´s yet another informal expression, but not as “slangy” as phrases like ‘ni de pedo’ and ‘ni madres’.
The idea here is that the matter at hand is so hare-brained / absurd that there’s no need for further discussion.
David – Hay que saltarnos las clases.
Omar – No, ni hablar!
David – Let´s skip classes.
Omar – Absolutely no way!
¡Qué va! – No way!
Here’s an expression that´s extremely common in Spain. I do sometimes hear it in Mexico, but normally when speaking to elderly people (the youngsters tend to prefer expressions like ‘ni de pedo’ and ‘ni madres’)
‘¡Qué va!’ is yet another way to emphatically say no to something. So, if at some point you travel to Spain, don’t be afraid to whip it out!
Sofía – ¿Compraste el jamón?
Mateo – ¡Qué va!
Sofía – Did you buy the ham?
Mateo – No way!
Penélope – Quiero que conozcas a mis papás.
Raúl – ¡Qué va!
Penélope – I want you to meet my parents.
Raúl – No way!
That´s all for today, folks! Not one, not two, but ten ways to say a big, emphatic NOPE in Spanish. If you master these expressions, you might well be able to pass as just another Mexican, Argentine or Spaniard.
Oh, and definitely check out our article on all the different ways to say ‘die‘ in Spanish if you wanna up your Spanish game even further (I promise it’s not as sombre as it looks!).
Now get out there and practice!