functional language: saying no


So we’ve learned several ways to say ‘no’. In the language reference section of lesson 1 we have the main facts. And we’ve also done some exercises.

Saying no

I’m afraid not = A polite way of saying no.

Not really = You don’t care very much about something.

I don’t think so/Not as far as I know/Not to my knowledge/Possibly not/Probably not = You think you know something but are not completely sure.

Certainly not/Definitely not = To emphasize that your answer to a question or request is definitely ‘no’.

Of course not = You think an idea is stupid or insulting.

No way/Not likely = Informal: very definite way of saying ‘no’.

You must be joking/Are you kidding = Shows that you think somebody’s suggestion or request is crazy.

Not exactly/Not quite = You think that something is almost (but not) correct or true.

I wish I could = Used to express regret that something is not possible.

Not especially/Not very (much) = Used to say ‘no’ to a question about your opinion of something.

Exercises (p. 9 Student’s book)

1 Choose the correct phrase to complete the responses.

1 A: Are you coming tonight?
1 B: Not really / I’m afraid not / You must be joking. I’d love to, but I can’t, it’s my turn to babysit!

2 A: Is there something special you’d like to do for your birthday?
2 B: Not to my knowledge / Certainly not / Not really, I’d be happy to stay at home.

3 A: So, your brother’s a chess champion, is he?
3 B: Not exactly / No way / Possibly not, I mean, he’s won a few matches, but I wouldn’t describe him as a champion yet!

4 A: Do you think you’ll pass?
4 B: Not to my knowledge / Possibly not / Not exactly, but I’m going to try my best.

5 A: Has Mr Smith checked out of his hotel yet?
5 B: Not to my knowledge / Not really / Not exactly, but you’d better check with reception.

6 A: Can I stay up and watch the film?
6 B: Possibly not / Certainly not / Not really, it’s time you were in bed, you’ve got to go school tomorrow.

7 A: Are you going to apologize to them?
7 B: Not exactly / Not really / No way! I don’t see why I should, it’s all their fault.

8 A: Are you coming up the mountain with us then?
8 B: You must be joking / Not to my knowledge / I’m afraid not! You lot are mad. I’m not climbing up there today.

2 Match the expressions a-h to the correct answers in exercise 1. More than one answer is possible.

a Are you kidding?
b Definitely not!
c I wish I could!
d Not especially.
e Not likely!
f Not quite.
g Not that I know.
h Probably not.

This is my solution: 1-c .. 2-f .. 3-f/d .. 4-h .. 5-g .. 6-b .. 7-e .. 8-a.

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