With many different ways to say “no way” in Japanese, it can seem a little overwhelming. In English, we often have one singular phrase that we can use to express all kinds of situations.
In Japanese, however, this is a little different. There are many different phrases and words in Japanese that you should use (and avoid) depending on the situation. This comes down to a couple of main things.
For instance, how the Japanese language changes dramatically when you’re speaking with different levels of respect. Or how some words and expressions are more frequently used depending on your age, and even gender.
In the case of this article, we’ll be exploring all of the nuances of, and ways you can say “No Way” in Japanese. There are quite a few of them, so you’ll be ready to tackle any situation. You’ll know the best and most natural ways of saying “No Way” in Japanese. But first, there are two things I’d like you to keep in mind as you read through this post. In English, saying “No Way” is primarily used in one of two situations.
The first is when we’re surprised or shocked. When something sounds astonishing, or unbelievable to you, such as if there was a Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask sequel announcement, you’d think “no way!”
The second is when you’re outright denying or refusing a statement or suggestion. For instance, if someone were to tell you that getting hyped over a new Zelda game was a waste of time and that you shouldn’t buy it, you’d say “no way!”
With these two uses in mind, let’s jump in and explore all of the ways to say “No Way” in Japanese!
Table of Contents
How not to say No Way in Japanese
Just before we learn how to say “no way” in Japanese, let’s look at how we should perhaps not say it. When looking around on the internet and in dictionaries, you’ll likely come across this one.
Although its grammatically correct, とんでもない (tondemonai) is best not used when you want to say “no way” in Japanese. It has many meanings. For instance, you can use it when you want to refer to something as absurd or unthinkable. Or, you can also use it as an expression to say “Absolutely not,” amongst other expressions such as “No problem” in Japanese. Culturally though, you’d probably want to avoid using expression phrase in Japan. The main reason being is that it sounds outdated and somewhat formal.
In Japanese conversation, there are much better and common words and expressions you can use to express your shock or refusal of something.
Let’s take a look!
No way in Japanese
- No way!
With that out of the way, let’s move onto the actual phrases and expressions worth using. A much more common way to say “no way” is the colloquial expression うそ (so). This one is fantastic, you’ll hear and use it all the time when speaking Japanese. While this expression actually means “lie” you’ll hear it being used when people are surprised or taken aback.
majora no kamen no zokuhen ga happyou sareta yo!
A sequel to Majora’s Mask was just announced!
Of course, you can reply:
One of my most memorable experiences with encountering this expression is when I first heard it while watching the Japanese dubbed version of Pokemon. The Pokemon Sudowoodo and its pre-evolution in Japanese has literally one line it is capable of saying. With that one line being うそ (uso), it makes for some great laughs when the Pokemon is shouting out うそ うそ うそ! (no way, no way, no way!) over and over again.
Check it out for yourself!
You can also use うそ (uso) as うそでしょう (uso desshou) adding more flavour to the expression. By attaching でしょう (desshou) to うそ (uso) you’re essentially saying “No way, you’re joking, right?” in Japanese.
There is also a kanji for (uso) you’ll probably encounter in manga and books to avoid confusion. In these cases that it is written in its kanji, 嘘, it will more often than not be referring to the actual lie in question rather than being used to say “no way.”
うそ (uso) is very easy to use and I’m sure you’ll have no problem remembering it. You’ll hear it all the time in Japan!
When something happens that comes as a surprise to you, you can use マジで (maji de) to say “Seriously?!” in Japanese. You’ll see マジで (maji de) written in either katakana or hiragana.
So you can use either when you want to say “seriously” in Japanese yourself. マジで is actually an abbreviation of 真面目 (majime), meaning “sincere; honest” in Japanese.
There are plenty of occasions as to when you might want to use this expression. You can also combine it with うそ (uso) (explained above) to say “No way! Seriously?!” to really give a boost to your expressionism.
A few examples as to when you can use マジで (maji de) Your friend tells you:
jitsu ha majora no kamen no zokuhen ga kyanseru sareta rashi.
Actually, it seems like the sequel to Majora’s Mask got cancelled.
Imagine the horror! Then you, (or I at least) would reply:
uso! maji de?!
No way! Seriously?!
マジで (maji de) is of course a casual expression. So you’re probably best off avoiding using this one during formal situations.
Sometimes you might see it written as マジでっ with the addition of a small hiragana つ (tsu). You don’t actually pronounce the small つ (tsu) at all. In this case, it is instead used to exaggerate one’s expression of something. So if you see it written a マジでっ you can assume that the character is very surprised, like a huge “NO WAY!”
Really?! in Japanese
You might have heard this one before when speaking with Japanese people or watching Japanese anime or shows. For those of you who haven’t, えええ (eee) is actually pronounced like a very long, exaggerated English “Ehhhhh?!” In Japanese, you can say actual words by making what we might just consider as noises in English. Take the way to deny something and say “no” in Japanese for instance, you can simply make a noise from the back of your mouth to say it.
Going back on topic… When you’re surprised, shocked, or just even if you’re somewhat disappointed you can say えええ (eee) to say “Really?!” in Japanese. Moreover, what’s great about this expression is that you can keep it as short or as long as you want, depending on how long you’re shocked for. For instance,
atarashii pokemon ha kotoshi denai rashii yo
Apparently, the new pokemon won’t be coming out this year.
With the perfect response:
Of course, if you really wanted to spice up your response to express your complete disappointment/level of shock:
eeeeeeeeeee, uso! maji de?!
Whaaaaaaaaat, really? No way! Seriously?!
I know which sounds like the more appropriate reply for this scenario to me.
It’s very easy to mix and match all three entries covered so far, うそ (uso), マジで (maji de), and えええ (eee) to find a fitting response for any situation.
Huh?! in Japanese
Building on what we covered under the えええ (eee) section, we can use the same expression to say “huh” in Japanese.
All we have to do is take a singular え (e), and use it as is. Simply by saying え (e), which is pronounced like an English “eh” by the way, we can say “huh” in Japanese. For example:
ashita watashi ha konai
I’m not coming tomorrow.
e, maji de?!
You’ll probably hear this used frequently in Japanese conversation. Have fun with your え’s!
No way, really?!
On occasions where you hear something that you doubt the legitimacy of you can say 本当に？！(hontouni). It is the same as saying “No way! Really?!” in English when you can’t believe something. For instance, imagine you have a cake you’ve been saving, but your sister says:
onichan, gomen, ke-ki zenbu tabechatta
I’m sorry, I kind of ate all of your cake.
To which, you reply:
uso! hontou ni?!
No way! Really?!
In situations like these that appear in stories such as that in Japanese manga, you might see it written as ほんとに (honto ni). This is just a shortened version of the expression. Of course, like in the example, you could say うそ (uso), (meaning explained above) followed by 本当に？！(hontouni). But it is perfectly natural to just simply say 本当に？！(hontouni) on its own. It just comes down to your preference on what you want to say.
当に？！(hontouni) is great because you can use it in many ways. I use it in Japanese conversation all the time actually. You can also use it when you want to say that something is “very” something.
demo onichan no ke-ki ha hontouni oishikatta yo
But your cake was really delicious!
You can use this expression during both casual and polite situations. If you want to use it when speaking polite Japanese, you should say 本当ですか？ (hontou desuka).
There are also some cool dialects associated with this phrase. In the Kansai region of Japan, instead of saying 本当に (hontou ni) they would say ほんまに (honmani) instead. Of course, this would only be when speaking with friends, as it sounds very casual.
I can’t believe it
- I can’t believe it
What better way to express your shock towards something than saying the words “I can’t believe it.” Just as you’d expect from this expression, it can be used on any occasion where you want to say “I can’t believe it” in Japanese.
信じられない (shinjirarenai) is the negative potential form of the verb 信じる (shinjiru) which means “to believe.”
There is only one small real difference between the Japanese and English version of this expression. As there are many ways that you can express “no way” in Japanese, saying the words “I can’t believe it” in Japanese may have a stronger connotation associated with it. So you’re best off saying 信じられない (shinjirarenai) when something appears implausible and you really, really can’t believe that something.
uso! takarakuji ni atta! shinjirarenai
No way! I just won the lottery! I can’t believe it!
You can also express how something is so good/bad beyond your imagination. For instance, let’s say you finally get to go to that theme park and ride that rollercoaster you’ve been waiting all your life for. You’re enjoying yourself so much that you feel as if you’ve been taken to another world, free of stress and worries.
shinjirarenai hodo tanoshii!
I can’t believe how fun this is!
Or maybe you’re absorbed in a book with a thrilling story…
shinjirarenai hodo omoshiroi!
I can’t believe how interesting this is!
With this structure, you can swap out the adjective at the end of the phrase with anything to express that something is completely unbelievable to you.
Absolutely no way
- Absolutely no way
During situations where you feel that something is completely impossible and that there is no way that it’s happening you’ll want to say ありえない (arienai).
It is the negative form of the Japanese verb ありえる (arieru), which essentially means “possible” or “probable” in Japanese. For example:
uchuu jin no sonzai ha arieru koto da.
There’s a possibility of aliens existing.
If you strongly disagree you could reply with:
Impossible, no way.
You can quite easily simply interpret ありえない (arienai) as “impossible” in Japanese. However, there is a little more to this expression than just that. When you use this phrase, you’re expressing that you really feel that something is impossible. That you truly believe that something won’t happen and you don’t believe in it.
It is a very strong phrase that you can use when you want to say “Absolutely no way” in Japanese.
The expression ありえない (arienai) is made of two parts. The first part, あり (ari), comes from ある (aru) which means “to exist” in Japanese. The second part えない (enai) is the negative form of the Japanese grammar point える, meaning “is possible.” By putting the two part’s together we can see that the literal translation of this expression is “no possibility exists.”
I’m not so sure in Japanese
- I’m not so sure…
If you feel that ありえない (arienai) is too strong for when you want to say “no way,” you can take it down a notch with どうかな (doukana). Although the purpose of this article is to cover all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese, it is sometimes considered to be polite when using indirect expressions to express your doubt over something in Japanese culture.
This means that even though deep down you might be thinking ありえない (arienai) to the possible existence of aliens, sometimes you might want to tone down the power of your response. You can do this by saying どうかな (doukana).
Also, when you’re really not believing in something, you can use どうかな (doukana). You doubt it so much that you’re on the brink of just saying “no way.”
uchuu jin ga sonzai wo shiteiru to omou.
I think aliens exist.
You can reply with:
I’m not so sure…
In Japanese culture, it is kind to always think about the other person’s feelings. Therefore, in situations when the said person really believes in something, but you’re not convinced, you can say どうかな (dou kana) to lessen the impact of your words a little.
There’s No Way
- There’s no way
At times when a situation that you thought was impossible turns out to be on the other side of the coin and be true, you can use まさか (masaka). Or, imagine you truly believe that something is true, and then you suddenly notice a crack in that truth. That truth you had believed in for so long shows a sign of being false. On this occasion, you would say まさか (masaka), meaning “there’s no way… I was wrong?!”
Let’s take a look at an example.
Your sister starts hanging out one on one with a guy quite regularly and says:
oniichan, kyou mo kare ni aou to omotteiru.
Hey brother, I’m going to meet up with him today too.
And you can say:
futari ha masaka tsukiatteiru?
There’s no way you two are actually dating, right?
The best situations in which you can use まさか (masaka) is when you want to express that a revelation has taken you from surprise.
masaka atarashii zeruda ga happyou sareru?
There’s no way a new Zelda will be announced right?
If you’re a watcher of Japanese anime or movies, you may have noticed a villain say まさか (masaka). Perhaps they have just won the battle versus the hero and believe they had won until they see a bright light in the sky…
- まさか… いったいどうやって生きてる！？
masaka… ittai douyatte ikiteru!?
There’s no way that… How are on earth are you alive!?
Sometimes, translating this expression from Japanese to English can be difficult. I hope the additional examples here helped you understand how it works.
No Way, No Chance
- No way, no chance
During the introduction to this article, I highlighted how when we say “no way” we are predominantly in one of two situations. The first of which being the entries we’ve covered so far – when we are surprised.
The second is what we will cover from here onwards – situations when you want to express dismissal or refusal or something. Let’s take a look!
When someone asks you for something, be that a favour, a request or anything of the sort there are times when you want to outright refuse. Alternatively, it could also be a suggestion or simple statement that you want to deny.
For instance, let’s say you don’t like sushi, that you despite it. Personally, I love it, and I would highly recommend going to a kaitenzushi place in Japan if you haven’t been before! Anyway, if you’re not a big lover of fish, our conversation could go something like:
nihon ni ittara zehi kaitenzushi ni ittemite!
You should definitely try out kaitenzushi when you go to Japan!
sakana ga kirai dakara zettaini iyada.
I hate fish so there’s absolutely no chance.
Sounds like a strong expression right? That’s because this phrase consists of two parts.
いやだ - (iyada) means “no way” or “no chance” in Japanese and you can use it as-is for a less powerful expression.
絶対に - (zettaini) means “definitely” in Japanese, so you can see how by attaching this word the strength of your expression is amplified.
ie no souji wo shitekurenai?
Could you clean the house for me?
Your response can simply be:
This expression is very casual, so you should avoid saying いやだ (iyada) to anyone such as your manager, your teacher or a stranger.
- Definitely Impossible
Another casual way to refuse a statement or suggestion is to use 絶対にむり (zettaini muri). Similar to 絶対にいやだ (zettaini iyada), above, you can use this expression when you want to completely outright say “no way” or “no chance” to something. For example, if you’re no good with spicy foods and your friend suggest you to try some wasabi, it might go like this:
wasabi wo tabetemiru?
Fancy trying some wasabi?
Absolutely no way!
When you use this expression to refuse a suggestion like this, you’re telling the other person that their request is impossible. You can also use this expression as you would in English to directly say that something is impossible.
hachi ji made maniaeru?
Do you think you can make it by 8?
If it seems you can’t, you reply:
zettaini muri, gomen.
I’m sorry, I don’t think that’ll be possible.
Bonus! Another way you can use this expression is when you want to tell someone not to overdo something, to be careful and take it easy.
Take it easy. (Don’t push yourself too hard).
Practice using “no way” in Japanese
How did you find this article? Are you interested in practising using all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese yourself? Check out our free Japanese Reading Practice page for all language levels. We have produced original tailor-made reading comprehension, grammar explanations, examples, vocabulary lists & exams for you. Our next edition to the page will help you become even more familiar with all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese.
We’re done already? うそ！I hope you found this article interesting and enjoyable. Until next time! むりしないで！
More Ultimate Guides:
Good Luck in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]
What’s up in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]