refuse, reject, deny and decline

What is the difference between “refuse”, “reject”, “deny” and “decline” in use?

Hi Rebecca,

Again, have a try at explaining how you see these verbs and then we can have a look to see how you’ve done. I am reluctant to list off a row of explanations, which you can probably find on the Internet anyhow.


So sorry for the inconvenience :oops: again!
Actually the situation is as follow:
The soldiers were put in prison because they … to obey orders.
A-rejected C-declined
B-objected D-refused
I suppose the answer is D but it’s really hard for me to differentiate these words.
So i really hope you help me.
One thing, that is we can use ‘to decline one’s invitation’, is that right?

Hi Rebecca,

You are right – refuse is the correct choice because it’s the only verb out of the four that is followed by an infinitive. The other three are followed by a noun.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Scheduling a staff meeting[YSaerTTEW443543]


‘Refuse’ has a strong sense of saying ‘no’. ‘Reject’ suggests that you don’t accept something. If you are making articles in a factory, those articles that are not of the required high standard are rejected. If you ‘object to something’, it suggests that you dont agree with it as in: I object to the way he slams the door every time he leaves the room. ‘Decline’ can be, as you say, to turn down an invitation or an offer.


Hi, Torsten

Let me disagree with you on this one. I just looked up decline and found out that it might mean to refuse and be followed by an infinitive.
Please, take a look at this: … &dict=CALD

I think that “refuse” is the right option because “decline” is formal, and the context requires a casual verb.?


Just to add - ‘refuse’ is very much saying ‘no’ with a capital N. ‘Decline’ is not only formal but has an air of politeness about it.


Hi Alex, Thanks a lot for pointing this out, you are right and it’s great that you are supporting other learners this way. I really appreciate it. Molodez![YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Storing boxes at an office[YSaerTTEW443543]

Spasibo !!! :slight_smile:

Ne za shto. Or shall I say “Thanks is too much – 5 bucks will do”? :-)[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: A woman sends a package via express mail[YSaerTTEW443543]

Ne za shto is perfect ! :slight_smile:

Thanks for all your help! :smiley:

To ‘refuse’ is the opposite of to ‘accept’ - if you refuse to do something you choose not to do it, or say firmly that you will not do it.
You could also refuse something, which means that you don’t accept it. For example:
“I offered him a cold drink but he refused it”

‘Reject’ is quite similar to ‘refuse’ - the opposite of both would be ‘accept’.

If you reject a proposal or a request, for instance, you decide not to agree with it…

“Judge Dread rejected the lawyer’s request for more time to study the case”

If you reject a belief or a theory, you decide that you do not believe in it and you do not wish to follow it…

“The rebels rejected the authority of the central government.”

‘Reject’ often carries the added meaning that you don’t think something is good enough - if an employer rejects a job applicant, or a machine rejects a credit card it is because something is considered unsuitable, invalid or wrong in some way.

If someone rejects a lover, their family or friends, they behave with cruelty or indifference towards them and perhaps do not want to see them any more.

‘Decline’ can be a rather formal synonym for ‘refuse’ - if you decline something or decline to do something, you politely refuse to accept it or do it…

“The princess is believed to have declined various proposals of marriage”

If something declines, it loses quality, importance or strength. Listen to how the verb ‘decline’ is used in this sentence:

“As China and India become more powerful, the economic power of the United States may be declining”

Ok, so ‘decline’ can be understood that one ‘refuse’ in his good manners (politely), right? I usually see ‘decline’ is used on newspapers, magazines and so when there has been an incident/ a scandal of an individual, organization or a group whose spokenman declines to answer any questions of press reporters while the cause of the incident is still unknown.

if you refuse to do something you choose not to do it, or say FIRMLY that you will not do it.