British English Slang – Say “No”

Slang expressions are difficult to learn – and they can also go out of fashion quickly.

But these British English slang expressions for saying “no” to a request are common – and you’ll probably hear them often in conversations. Even if you don’t use them, they’re important to understand. Like lots of slang, the pronunciation is important. Listen to the recordings for natural intonation.

You’ve got to be joking!

Also “You’ve gotta be joking!”

This means that your request is so ridiculous that I would never agree to it. (It can also mean that I don’t believe what you’ve just said.)

“Some of my friends are going to Glastonbury festival this year. Can I go with them?”
“You’ve got to be joking. You’re only 14!”

Listen to the pronunciation:

You’ve got to be joking

You’re having a laugh!

When you have a laugh with your friends, it means that you’re joking with them. So if you think someone’s request is unreasonable, you can say “You’re having a laugh”.

“Lets walk to the beach.”
“You’re having a laugh – it’s 10 miles from here!”

Listen to the pronunciation:

You’re having a laugh

“If you think …. you’ve got another think coming!”

This means that you won’t allow someone to do something. (It’s something your parent might say to you!)

“If you think I’m going to let you stay out all night, you’ve got another think coming!”

Listen to the pronunciation:

You’ve got another think coming

“Not on your nellie!” / “Not on your life!”

You might already know “Not on your life!” but “Not on your nellie!” (which means the same thing) is typically British English slang. Both expressions mean “not even if your life depended on it.”

“Can I invite Jack to the party?”
“Not on your nellie! I heard what happened at the last party he went to!”

Listen to the pronunciation:

Not on your nellie

“No way!” / “No way Jose!”

“No way Jose” is just another way to say “No way!”

“Can I have another week to finish my essay?”
“No way Jose!”

Listen to the pronunciation:

No way

“No can do!”

This means that you aren’t able to do what the person asked. Maybe it’s not your job to do it, or that some regulations or other problems mean you can’t do it. People also say it if they’re happy that they can’t do it. Here’s an example:

“Can you go to the supermarket for me today?”
“No can do, I’m afraid. I’ve got to stay late at work.”

Listen to the pronunciation:

No can do

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– guides on slang
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