When someone offers you something (like an invitation to a party, or more food, or even a great “deal” in a shop, you might want to say “no”.
There are many ways to refuse an offer in English, but you must be polite! You can say “No thank you” but there are more advanced ways to say this.
Check out ten common native speaker phrases to refuse an offer here.
It’s very kind of you, but…
Say this to show you appreciate the offer. The “but” shows that you can’t accept it. Example:
“Would you like me to drive you home?”
“It’s very kind of you, but I’ve already got a lift.”
I appreciate the offer, but …
This is a little more formal than the first. You could say it when someone offers you help that you don’t want.
“Would you like me to finish the report for you?”
“I appreciate the offer, but I think I can do it in time.”
It’s very tempting, but …
You can say this when you want to show that the offer is something you’d normally accept, but there’s a reason you can’t this time.
“Would you like another piece of cake?”
“It’s very tempting, but I can’t”
“What about going to Barbados next year on holiday?”
“It’s very tempting, but we can’t afford it.”
I really shouldn’t.
If someone is trying to persuade you to do something which you don’t want to do, you can say “I really shouldn’t”. To be more polite, you can also give a reason why you’re refusing the offer.
“Stay for another drink!”
“I really shouldn’t! I’ve got to get up early tomorrow.”
I can’t this time.
This is a very useful phrase. You can use it to refuse an offer – but also to refuse to help someone (especially if you also say “sorry”.) Here are two examples:
“Would you like to come to the pub after work?”
“Oh, I can’t this time. I promised I’d pick up Joe from school.”
“Can you check my report for me?”
“I’m really sorry, but I can’t this time. I’ve got to finish something urgently.”
It’s a great offer, but …
Say this in a shop when you want to say “no” to a sales assistant.
“…. and this phone has the latest camera and…”
“It’s a great offer, but I’m not interested.”
Actually, I think I’m going to pass on it, if you don’t mind.
Say this to a sales assistant to refuse the offer. You might say this after you’ve been speaking for a while.
“We could also arrange five monthly payments…”
“Actually, I think I’m going to pass on it, if you don’t mind.”
(The “I don’t mind” is a polite way of saying “sorry” in this situation.)
You can also use this expression in social occasions.
“Would you like to come out for a curry? We’re all going…”
“Actually, I think I’ll pass on it tonight. I’m really tired.”
Let me sleep on it.
This is a lovely way to say that you need time to decide. (Maybe you’ve already decided to refuse the offer, but you don’t want to say that.) You can say this in different situations – in a shop, at work, or to friends.
“I’m not sure if I can offer you a full-time position. Would you consider a part-time role instead?”
“Oh – let me sleep on it!”
“We can offer you a 10% discount if you pay the deposit before next week.”
“OK – let me sleep on it.”
“Do you want to be involved in the project?”
“I’m not sure. Let me sleep on it.”
Can you give me a couple of minutes?
This is another phrase you can use to delay giving your decision. You could use it in a shop and then move away from the sales assistant.
“Can I interest you in our top-of-the-range dishwasher?”
“Oh – can you give me a couple of minutes?”
Not today, thanks.
Because this expression is short, it’s direct and less polite. You can use it when someone approaches you in the street and wants to give you a leaflet.
“Are you looking for a great takeaway?”
“Oh, not today thanks.”
When you know native-speaker phrases, you become more confident when you speak English. Get 650+ everyday fluency phrases – PLUS exclusive lessons and trainings – when you join the English Fluency Club.
Join the English Fluency Club and get…
– a community of people to support and encourage you
– access to my 2 fluency programs (which also include 2 personal lessons)
– 3 group lessons every month
– weekly challenges
– 2 personal lessons on Zoom