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I've learned from textbooks and online sites like Duolingo that "no" is いいえ, but I've rarely heard native speakers say that. I learned さあ today as sort of an "I don't know" response. I saw a subtitled film that translated "no" as いや. Are there more simple responses like these that can represent "no," and if so, can you include how common or polite they are?

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    さあ doesn't really mean "I don't know", it's more an indication that the speaker doesn't want to or isn't able to answer. – paullb Dec 24 '19 at 4:55
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    Related, maybe? japanese.stackexchange.com/a/24225/9831 – Chocolate Dec 24 '19 at 5:47
  • @paullb You said 「さあ doesn't mean "I don't know" but it indicates the speaker... isn't able to answer」. Did you mean "isn't able to answer" only in senses other than for lack of knowledge? – By137 Dec 24 '19 at 14:38
  • @By137 What I mean "by isn't able to say" isn't for a lack of knowledge but more of it being a secret or they don't feel it's appropriate to say. – paullb Dec 25 '19 at 1:04
  • One I wish I knew sooner: When someone says 多分 to something they're requested to do, it most likely means いいえ. – Eriol Dec 30 '19 at 15:02
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You're absolutely right about いいえ not being used as "no" in most cases. I can't recall the last time I heard a native speaker actually use it. Here are some of the most common ways I've heard the meaning of "no" being expressed:

違うよ - "to differ".

Speaker 1: お寿司が大好きだったよね?

Speaker 2: 違うよ!お寿司が嫌い!

ううん

Speaker 1: もう寝る?

Speaker 2: ううん、まだ寝ない

Verb+ない

Speaker 1: もう寝る?

Speaker 2: まだ寝ないよ

だめだよ - "it's bad/wrong"

Speaker 1: このケーキを食べていい?

Speaker 2: それはお父さんのケーキだからダメだよ

いや

This is a bit nuanced, so I'll refer you to this great description: The usage of いや in response to questions

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  • Awesome, thank you! I think I've heard some of these before, so it'll be nice to better understand now. How is the first kanji in your answer said? – Strawberry Jan 5 at 23:38
  • That fist word is ちがう, or ちがいます in a polite context – Nelson S Jan 5 at 23:40
  • Thank you! I've only learned the polite version without kanji before. So much new vocab today. – Strawberry Jan 5 at 23:49
  • If including nuanced responses, I will add 「ちょっと」 with speaker tilting their head. – Z Kubota Jan 31 at 18:35

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