Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

Want to learn how to say no in Hawaiian? Whether you’re visiting the islands or just interested in the language, this comprehensive guide will teach you several ways to decline, refuse, and express disagreement in Hawaiian.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The most common ways to say no in Hawaiian are ‘a’ole, ‘a’ohe, and make (pronounced mah-kay). But keep reading to learn more details and context for using these negative expressions.

In this article, we’ll cover: – The 3 main ways to say no in Hawaiian and how to pronounce them – Other variations and synonyms for no, like expressing disagreement – How to politely decline an invitation, request or offer – Cultural background on using negative phrases in Hawaiian appropriately – Example sentences and phrases for practice

The 3 Main Ways to Say No


One of the most common ways to say “no” in Hawaiian is by using the word “a’ole.” This word is used to express a negative response or to refuse something. For example, if someone asks you if you want to go for a swim and you don’t want to, you can simply say “a’ole” to decline their invitation. It’s a straightforward and simple way to say no in Hawaiian.


Another way to say no in Hawaiian is by using the word “a’ohe.” This word is similar to “a’ole” and is also used to express a negative response. However, “a’ohe” is often used in a more specific context. For example, if someone asks you if you have any siblings and you don’t, you can say “a’ohe” to indicate that you don’t have any siblings. It’s a useful word to know when you need to say no in a particular situation.


The third main way to say no in Hawaiian is by using the word “make.” While “make” is most commonly known as the word for “death” in Hawaiian, it can also be used to express a negative response or refusal. This usage of “make” as a way to say no is more informal and is often used in casual conversations. For example, if someone asks you if you want to eat spicy food and you don’t, you can say “make” to decline their offer. It adds a touch of Hawaiian flair to your refusal.

Learning how to say no in Hawaiian can be a fun and useful way to immerse yourself in the language and culture of the islands. Whether you choose to use “a’ole,” “a’ohe,” or “make,” you’ll be able to express your negative response confidently. So the next time someone asks you a question in Hawaiian, you can respond with a polite and firm no, using one of these three main ways to say no in Hawaiian.

Other Ways to Say No and Disagree

While learning how to say “no” in Hawaiian is interesting, there are also other phrases and expressions you can use to convey disagreement or refusal. These alternative phrases provide additional ways to express your thoughts and feelings. Here are a few examples:

Auwe – An exclamation of regret or disappointment

Auwe is a Hawaiian expression that conveys a sense of regret or disappointment. While it may not directly mean “no,” it can be used in situations where you want to express your disagreement or dissatisfaction. For example, if someone suggests an idea that you strongly disagree with, you can respond with a heartfelt “Auwe!” to convey your disappointment. It adds an emotional element to your disagreement, allowing you to express your feelings along with your disagreement.

‘A’ole pilikia – No problem/trouble

‘A’ole pilikia is a versatile Hawaiian phrase that can be used to mean “no problem” or “no trouble.” While it may not be a direct way to say “no” or disagree, it can be used in situations where you want to politely decline an offer or suggestion without causing offense. For example, if someone offers you a drink and you don’t want it, you can respond with a friendly ” ‘A’ole pilikia” to decline the offer without explicitly saying “no.” It’s a polite way to disagree without causing any trouble or offense.

He ‘ano like ‘ole – It’s not like that

He ‘ano like ‘ole is a Hawaiian phrase that translates to “it’s not like that” or “it’s different.” While it may not be a direct way to say “no” or disagree, it can be used to politely express a contrasting opinion or perspective. For example, if someone presents an argument or viewpoint that you disagree with, you can respond with “He ‘ano like ‘ole” to express that your perspective differs from theirs. It allows for a respectful exchange of ideas and promotes open discussion.

Remember, these alternative phrases provide different ways to express disagreement or refusal in Hawaiian. The choice of phrase depends on the context and your personal preference. Using these expressions can help you navigate conversations and express your thoughts in a culturally appropriate manner.

Saying No Politely

Declining invitations and requests

When it comes to declining invitations or requests in Hawaiian culture, it is important to do so politely and respectfully. One way to say no in Hawaiian is by using the phrase “ʻaʻole mahalo,” which translates to “no thank you.” This phrase can be used in various situations, such as declining an invitation to an event or turning down a request for assistance. By using this phrase, you can communicate your refusal in a kind and considerate manner.

Another way to decline invitations or requests is by expressing your gratitude for the invitation or opportunity, but explaining why you are unable to accept. For example, you could say “Mahalo nui no ka hōʻikeʻike, akā ʻaʻole hiki iā wau,” which means “Thank you very much for the invitation, but I am unable to attend.” By acknowledging the invitation and providing a brief explanation, you show respect and consideration for the person extending the invitation.

Refusing gifts and offers

Politely refusing gifts or offers in Hawaiian culture can be done by using phrases that express gratitude but decline the offer. One common phrase is “Mahalo nui, akā ʻaʻole hiki iaʻu,” which means “Thank you very much, but I cannot accept.” This phrase can be used when someone offers you a gift or extends an offer of help or assistance.

It is also important to provide a reason for refusing the gift or offer, if appropriate. For example, you could say “Mahalo no kēia kōkua, akā ua pono nō wau” which means “Thank you for this offer of help, but I am okay.” By explaining your reason for declining, you show gratitude for the gesture while politely declining.

Remember, saying no in Hawaiian is about maintaining respectful and considerate communication. By using these phrases and expressing gratitude, you can decline invitations, requests, gifts, and offers without causing offense or disrespect.

Cultural Context

When learning how to say no in Hawaiian, it is important to understand the cultural context in which this phrase is used. Hawaiian culture places a strong emphasis on harmony and respect for others. The concept of “Aloha” is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian society, which means more than just “hello” and “goodbye” – it is also a way of life and a way of treating others with kindness and love. This cultural context influences how Hawaiians navigate the delicate art of saying no.

Avoiding Confrontation

In Hawaiian culture, avoiding confrontation is highly valued. Hawaiians often find subtle ways to decline requests or invitations without causing offense or discomfort. This is done through the use of polite language, non-verbal cues, and indirect communication. For example, instead of outright saying “no,” a Hawaiian may respond with phrases like “I’ll think about it” or “I have other commitments.” This allows them to decline politely while maintaining harmony and avoiding confrontations.

Saving Face

Another important aspect of saying no in Hawaiian is the concept of saving face. Hawaiians place great importance on preserving their own dignity as well as the dignity of others. This means that when declining a request, Hawaiians will often frame their response in a way that preserves the other person’s feelings and avoids causing embarrassment. They may offer alternative solutions or suggest compromises to soften the impact of their refusal.

To fully understand the cultural context of saying no in Hawaiian, it is recommended to engage with the Hawaiian community, learn from native speakers, and respect their customs and traditions. This will not only enhance your language skills but also deepen your appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii.

Examples and Phrases

Common situations for saying no

Learning how to say “no” in Hawaiian can be useful in a variety of situations. Here are some common scenarios where you might need to politely decline:

  • When someone offers you food or drink that you don’t want or can’t have: “ʻAʻole, mahalo. I’m not hungry.” (No, thank you.)
  • When you are invited to an event but can’t attend: “ʻAʻole, kelepona. I can’t make it this time.” (No, sorry. I can’t make it this time.)
  • When someone asks for a favor that you are unable to fulfill: “ʻAʻole, ʻaʻole hiki iaʻu. I can’t help you with that.” (No, I can’t help you with that.)

By knowing how to say “no” in Hawaiian, you can navigate these situations with grace and respect for the language and culture.

Practice sentences

Here are some practice sentences to help you become more comfortable using “no” in Hawaiian:

  • “ʻAʻole, ke aloha iā ia.” (No, I don’t love him/her.)
  • “ʻAʻole, ʻaʻole i hoihoi iaʻu.” (No, I’m not interested.)
  • “ʻAʻole, ke hoʻomanawanui i ka hana.” (No, be patient with the work.)

Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid to use these phrases in real-life situations to improve your fluency in the Hawaiian language.


Whether you’ll be interacting with native Hawaiian speakers or just want to sound authentic on your island getaway, knowing how to say no and disagree appropriately goes a long way.

With this guide, you now have the tools to decline requests, refuse offers, and express disagreement in various situations – while being polite and respectful of Hawaiian culture.

From the three main terms a’ole, a’ohe, and make, to nuanced phrases like auwe and he ‘ano like ‘ole, you’re prepared with essential negative expressions. Use them naturally in your Hawaiian conversations and travels!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts