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아니, 아니요, and 아니에요 all translates to 'No'. So what's the difference between them?

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  • 아니다 means 'to be not'

  • 아니 and 아니요 are both exclamations that mean 'no', used when answering a Yes/No question. 아니 uses the 해체 speech level; 아니요 uses the 해요체 speech level. 아니요 is often compacted to 아뇨. 아니/아니요/아뇨 are used on their own as an independent phrase.

  • 아니에요 means 'It is not', and is the conjugated form of the verb 아니다 (to be not) using the 해요체 speech style and declarative sentence type. It is an irregular verb so you may expect the conjugated form to be 아니 + 어요 ⟶ 아니어요 (you may still hear this in old Korean dramas); but instead it conjugates (irregularly) to 아니에요 (perhaps to make pronunciation easier). 아니에요 can be compacted to 아녜요.

    You'd use 아니에요 when:

    • answering a certain type of Yes/No question where the question has the form "Is X...?" (아니에요 doesn't make sense if used for a question like "Do you want to go now?" - use 아니요 instead)
    • someone thanks you and you want to say it's not worth thanking. It's short for (감사할 일) 아니에요, or 'It is not (something you should thank me for).

Here's a more complete list:

  • No
    • 해체 - 아니
    • 해요체 - 아니요
  • It's not
    • 해체 - 아니야
    • 해요체 - 아니에요
    • 하십시오체 - 아닙니다
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  • The use of interjections is not confined to single speech levels. Please look at these real examples: 1. "아니, 자네가 어쩐 일인가." (아니 with 하게체) 2. "아니, 왜 그러십니까?" (아니 with 하십시오체/합쇼체) 3. "아니, 그렇지 않소." (아니 with 하오체) 4. "아니, 제가 지금 안 된다고 했잖아요." (아니 with 해요체) 5. "아니, 아닙니다." (아니 with 하십시오체/합쇼체) 6. "아니요, 아닙니다." (아니요 with 하십시오체/합쇼체) 7. "아니요, 내 잘못이 아니오." (아니요 with 하오체). Regarding this, someone left a question several weeks ago. It would be better to say that 아니요 is unlikely to be used with 해체 because its origin relates to 해요체. – Klmo Sep 28 at 21:56
  • Furthermore, 아니 and 아니요 can also mean yes when they are answers to negative questions (except for the rhetorical ones that are actually positive questions). In fact, there are situations where some people use 응/어 and 예/네 while others use 아니 and 아니요 to make the same response. This is quite confusing especially when it is unclear whether a question is rhetorical; then, it is better to avoid using those interjections. – Klmo Sep 28 at 22:31

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