I have heard the following dialogue in the movie "Le Jeu":

  • Je sais que, quand elle va m'annoncer que je suis le père, que je suis papa, je vais chialer.
  • Attends ses 17 ans qu'elle t'envoie chier. Et là, effectivement, tu vas, chialer.
  • Mais non.

The literal translation of "mais non" to "but no" makes no sense in English. The Collins dict translates it as "of course not" and the English subtitles in the movie translate it as "no way". AFAIK the two last expressions are expressed by "bien sûr que non" and "pas question" in English. Is there any difference in meaning/usage between those three expressions ?

2 Answers 2


Here, mais non is a rebuttal of what has just been said. Depending on the tone, it can be either close to "come on" (stop bullshitting me) or just a mild, hesitant disagreement.

Bien sûr que non is a strong reply to a question or expresses an agreement to a negative sentence:

C'est lui qui a gagné ?

Bien sûr que non ! (c'est pas lui)

C'est pas lui qui a gagné !

Bien sûr que non ! (c'est pas lui)

Pas question expresses a definitive disagreement about a future statement:

Tu vas voter pour lui ?

Pas question ! (no way)

Bien sûr que non is possible too here.


These three expressions have the same meaning (it means no). You will use these expressions in different contexts:

  • "Mais non": when you discuss with a friend or family, to show that you don't agree with what they said before.
  • "Bien sûr que non": more formal and stronger than "mais non". For example if you want to give a guarantee that something didn't happen (can be translated to "of course not").
  • "Pas question": really strong, and shows that you forbid something. For example, if your 13 years old child asks you if he can drink alcohol, you will reply with "pas question".

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