Mastering the Art of Saying No and Yes in Multiple Languages

Grover Laughtonreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process6 min
Created: Feb 9, 2024Last updated: Jun 7, 2024
No and Yes in Different Languages

Can you imagine speaking any language without knowing how to say “yes” or “no?” Of course, gestures can perfectly describe agreement and disagreement, as they are mostly cross-cultural. However, they still cannot replace verbal communication, which is why it’s essential to master no and yes in different languages. You never know when this knowledge comes in handy. Maybe you plan to relocate to France or travel to some exotic countries? In any case, having basic speaking skills is a great idea.

The Global Language of Agreement and Disagreement

Over 7,000 languages are now spoken in the world, and it’s barely impossible to learn even the simplest phrases in each of them. In this case, gestures are the best solution. A nod to show agreement is a great option when you must say “yes,” but don’t speak your interlocutor’s language. This body sign is used in most cultures, so it’s highly possible that people around you will understand what you mean.

On the other hand, shaking your head on different sides is the standard way to say no, which is common in many countries. Expressing disagreement is simple, no matter where you are, as this typical gesture is cross-cultural. Therefore, you can use it when you don’t speak any foreign languages. However, having at least basic knowledge will be beneficial for everyone. 

Imagine yourself visiting France or having a business trip to Japan. Spending time in any country without knowing yes and no in different languages will be challenging. Using body language may be insufficient. It’s time to discover something other than nodding and shaking your head; in this way, you can show respect to other countries’ residents, demonstrating the desire to explore their language and traditions.

Yes or No? A Journey Through Languages

Are you ready to immerse yourself in language learning? Starting with the simplest topics is the best idea. Exploring ways to say yes and no in varied languages, so we’ve gathered all the important words you might need to know. It’s complicated to predict how your future will turn out, so this guide may become helpful suddenly. Let’s first discover how to express agreement in different languages: 

  • oui [wˈi] – French;
  • ja [jˈɑː] – German;
  • nαί [naí] – Greek;
  • ja [jˈɑː] – Norwegian;
  • da [dˈɑː] – Croatian;
  • kyllä [ˈkylːæ] – Finnish;
  • si [sˈi] – Italian;
  • sim [sˈɪm] – Portuguese;
  • ja [jˈɑː] – Swedish;
  • si [sˈi] – Spanish;
  • [tˈɑː] – Irish;
  • [ʒˈa] – Latvian;
  • iva [ˈɪvə] – Maltese;
  • [ne] – Korean;
  • evet [] – Turkish;
  • tak [tˈak] – Ukrainian;
  • da [dˈa] – Romanian.

Discovering the language peculiarities is exciting, so why not master some new words? Of course, you can always Google the necessary translations and use online dictionaries wherever you are. On the other hand, answering without delays is a way to show respect to your interlocutors in different countries. You might have noticed that “yes” variations are pretty similar in numerous languages, which will help learners memorize the necessary wordings faster.


How to Say No in Different Languages: Practical Guide

Learning how to say no is no less important. Who knows when you will have to show your disagreement? Saying it without words is still possible, but exploring varied languages is much more exciting. So, take a look at different ways to say yes and memorize some:

  • non [nˈɔ̃] – French;
  • nein [nˈa͡ɪn] – German;
  • oχι [óchi] – Greek;
  • nei [nˈiː] – Norwegian;
  • ne [nˈiː] – Croatian;
  • ei [ˈa͡ɪ] – Finnish;
  • no [nˈɔ] – Italian;
  • não [nˈa͡ʊ] – Portuguese;
  • nej [nˈɛd͡ʒ] – Swedish;
  • no [nˈo] – Spanish;
  • nil [nˈɪl] – Irish;
  • [nˈiː] – Latvian;
  • le [lˈə] – Maltese;
  • 아니요 [aniyo] – Korean;
  • hayır [hˈe͡ɪɜː] – Turkish;
  • nie [ni] – Ukrainian;
  • nu [nˈu] – Romanian.

Showing your agreement and disagreement through body language is still possible, so consider this option when visiting different countries and exploring varied cultures. However, learning the simplest yes and no in other languages will be advantageous, as it’s a way to understand what your interlocutor says. Mastering all the above words is not mandatory, as most modern people have smartphones in their pockets and can use an online dictionary to translate what they need instantly.

Of course, knowing only two words, yes and no, will hardly allow you to speak different languages fluently. Therefore, you will still have to master at least some essential topics, like apologizing in Korean or greeting people in Spanish, to boost your skills. However, learning how to express your agreement or disagreement is one of the fundamentals that can help you navigate numerous situations.

The Power of Affirmation and Negation Across Cultures

It’s worth noting that English is a universal language used by millions across different countries. Therefore, saying “no” or “yes” is suitable worldwide, as there’s a high possibility that your interlocutor will understand you. Other widespread languages include Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, etc. Therefore, mastering their basics will be beneficial. Such knowledge will come in handy for those who love traveling, as exploring different countries is simpler when you can communicate with locals. 

Undeniably, saying “yes” and “no” can vary depending on the culture. For instance, Western people will easily refuse something they don’t want to do. On the other hand, representatives of Eastern culture would rather avoid giving a direct answer. Instead, they can use their body language to show disagreement or disapproval, and representatives of most cultures will understand them.

Such peculiarities can cause misunderstandings across different countries. Eastern residents can consider Westerners rude, while the latter often lack abilities to read the interlocutor’s emotions and notice that their gestures and emotions say “no” without words. These differences in cultures and perceptions highlight the need to learn the basic words to communicate with people from varied languages without inconveniences and misunderstandings.

Master Ways to Say Yes & Strengthen Your Skills with Promova

Learning how to say yes and no is the first step in mastering French, Spanish, Italian, or any other language of your choice. The Promova platform will become your one-stop solution for strengthening learner’s skills. Guided courses developed by professional tutors include lots of new words daily and thrilling quizzes to test your knowledge level. 

You can interact with Promova in the web version or download an app, which is even more convenient. Take your language learning with you and enjoy interactive lessons wherever you are. You can join the free version or subscribe to Premium to get even more benefits when mastering the chosen language.


Now you know how to say yes in different languages; memorizing the above words is a great idea for those who would like to broaden their horizons and be able to communicate with more people globally. Of course, it’s barely impossible to learn everything. Using gestures is acceptable in multiple cultures, but knowing at least some words for yes and no in different languages will be beneficial for many people.


What are the most popular languages in the world?

Undeniably, English is the most widespread language globally, with around 1.5 billion speakers across multiple countries. Chinese is in the second position, as around 1.1 people use it. Hindi is the third, with 609 million speakers. Spanish and French are in the fourth and fifth stages, with 559 million and 309 million individuals using them, respectively. Of course, the above statistics include native speakers and those mastering them as their second language.

Which resources should I use to strengthen my language knowledge?

Practicing speaking skills and replenishing vocabulary is the basis for every learner. Therefore, utilizing online dictionaries is inevitable for students. Take advantage of Cambridge DictionaryMerriam-Webster, or their alternatives to boost your knowledge and get closer to the desired level of fluency. Of course, you can also find plenty of online workbooks and manuals to strengthen your skills.

What are the longest words for “yes” and “no” in the world?

Most people are used to short wordings that express agreement and disagreement, but those curious about languages would like to explore some more peculiarities. In Swahili, “ndiyo” [​​ˈɛndˈɪjo͡ʊ] means “yes,” while “hakuna” [hækˈuːnə] is no. Of course, these words are not very long, but still contain more letters than their synonyms in many other languages.

What are the slang ways to say yes and no in English

You can always replace the standard “yes” with “of course” or other synonyms, but what about slang natives would probably use? The most common alternatives include “yeah,” “yep,” and “yah.” At the same time, you can say “no” using these words: “nah,” “nope,” “nay.” They are unsuitable for formal communication, but using them with friends and family is acceptable.