What is no way in Japanese? Well today I’m here to answer that question. I’ve got quite a few different answers, so you’ll have you plenty of options to choose from.
The thing that I want you to keep in mind for this post is that the English phrase “no way” can be used in two primary ways.
The first is when you’re saying that something is beyond belief, such as hearing that your mom won the lottery and she’s gonna split it with you! No way!
The other is a complete refusal of someone’s suggestion. Like if someone from high school whom you haven’t spoken to in years pops up and says you should split your half of the money with them. No way!
What Is No Way in Japanese
If you look in a dictionary for “no way” you will usually see the expression とんでも無い (tondemo nai) used.
While this is technically true, it’s seen as being kind of old or too formal for most casual conversations.
A more colloquial or common word to use is うそ (uso). This literally means “lie” in Japanese, but it often gets used in exclamations to say things like “no way!” or “I can’t believe that!”
- takarakuji de ichi oku en atatta.
- I won 100 million yen in the lottery.
To which you promptly reply:
- No way!
In addition to just saying うそ, it is also pretty common to hear it with でしょう (deshou) or だろう (darou) added onto the end of it. It still means the same thing, but adds a little more to the phrase than before.
- uso deshou!
- You’re kidding me, right?
There is also a kanji for うそ that’s used fairly often in books and manga. It is written as 嘘 (uso), but usually gets used when talking about a “lie” that someone told you, rather than the phrase we’ve been covering so far.
Really or Seriously in Japanese
Sometimes you hear something that you doubt is true. Perhaps you park your bike for two minutes while you run into the post office and mail a letter to your grandma, but by the time you get back your bike has been stolen!
In situations like these, you could use うそ like we’ve covered above, or you could use one of the two new words below.
These ones are similar to saying “really!?” or “seriously!?” when you’re asking a question rhetorically because you can’t believe what just happened.
The first one is ほんとに (honto ni) which is a shortned version of 本当に (hontou ni) which means “truly.”
- honto ni!? uso deshou!
- Really!? No way this is happening!
Related: How to say no in Japanese.
The other one that you can use is マジで (maji de) when you want to say “seriously!?” when something happens that you can’t believe.
マジで is usally written like that in katakana and hiragana. This is an abbreviated form of the word 真面目 (majime) which means “serious; honest.”
- jitensha ga nusumarete shimatta.
- My bike got stolen.
To which your friend replies:
- e? maji de?! zannen.
- Eh? Seriously?! That sucks.
Sometimes you’ll see this word used in manga written as 「マジでっ！？」 with the small “tsu” character at the end like that when the character is super shocked and yells something like “NO WAY!”
That’s Impossible in Japanese
How many of you have seen the anime Black Clover?
In that anime, the main character Asta wants to become the Wizard King and he often makes outlandish declarations that nobody believes he can accomplish.
Asta’s childhood friend is Yuno who has a more serious personality and sees Asta as his rival.
The reason why I bring this up is because any time Asta makes a statement about something he’s going to accomplish, Asta replies to it with あり得ない (arienai) which means “impossible.”
This is a word that you can use to say “no way” when you feel like there’s no possible way that it could happen. It other words, when it’s impossible.
- ore wa mahoutei ni naru.
- I will become the Wizard King.
Then Yuno says:
- Impossible (no way).
Another common phrase to hear when watching anime or reading manga is バカな (baka na). On it’s own, the word バカ means “idiot; stupid.”
But when something crazy happens and the character yells 「バカな！」 what they’re actually saying is “impossible!”
Another version of this can be seen in そんなばかな (sonna baka na) which means something like “this can’t be happening” or “I can’t believe it.”
- nanii! sonna baka na!
- What! That’s impossible!
Absolutely Not in Japanese
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that the English phrase “no way” has two possible meanings. The first one is what we’ve covered so far and it’s used to express disbelief.
Now it’s time to switch over to the second use of the expression. That is, when you want to make a refusal.
There are two useful words for this part. The first of which is やだ (yada).
The full version of the word is 嫌 (iya) which means “disagreeable” but the more casual version やだ means “not a chance; not likely; no way” and is often used as an informal way to turn down a suggestion.
You wouldn’t want to use it in formal situations like talking to your boss or one of your company’s customers, but it would be okay when hanging out with friends.
If you wanted to make it even stronger, you could add 絶対に (zettai ni) to it for “absolutely (not); never.”
Let’s say that a friend recommends that you try eating the cheeseburger pizza, which you absolutely don’t want.
- zettai ni iya da!
- Absolutely not!
The other word to learn is 無理 (muri) which means “unreasonable; impossible” and is often used between friends to say that their suggestion can’t be done.
- boku ga fuusha no chouten o toru no wa, haha… muri da.
- Me, take the summit of that windmill? Lol, impossible.
Over To You Now
Now I want to hear from you!
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I’ll be sure to hit you back.
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Further Resources for Learning Japanese: