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I've just seen this sentence on the internet...

You don't get another chance. Life is no Nintendo game.

If I had to say something like that, I would say "Life is not a Nintendo game."

Why did he say "no"? What is more correct? and what is the difference?

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See also english.stackexchange.com/questions/7744/… –  GEdgar Jun 17 '12 at 17:13
    
possible duplicate of "Does not make changes" or "makes no changes" –  jwpat7 Jun 17 '12 at 17:24
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possible duplicate of "There is no rule" vs. "there isn't rule" –  MrHen Oct 24 '13 at 14:27
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closed as off-topic by Janus Bahs Jacquet, Rory Alsop, RyeɃreḁd, MrHen, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Oct 25 '13 at 2:53

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4 Answers

This is a common idiom that is subtly different from the regular use of no and not. It’s used to make a comparison against an ideal or standard thing, and is often used to compare skills:

He’s no “king of comedy”, but Dane Cook can make people laugh.

Michael Bublé is a pretty good singer, but he’s no Frank Sinatra.

Your example sentence is saying you don’t get another chance because life is not a Nintendo game—though ideally it would be, because everybody wants a second chance at life.

This is also used with negative descriptions to cast someone in a positive light. “She’s no fool” means “she’s actually very wise/savvy”. Occasionally you also see it used in a rhetorical way, to give the reader a negative expectation but “surprise” them with a positive description:

He’s no Nikola Tesla—he’s even smarter than that!

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Neither is more correct. They both mean the same thing, however using "no" gives it more intriguing feel, and "not a" gives a cold definite statement.

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When a noun has an non-gradable meaning (it is either something or it is not) we cannot use "no" + noun.

A potato is not a fruit.
A potato is no fruit.

When a noun has a gradable meaning, "no" + noun means the same as "not a/an" + noun:

It's no secret that we are interested. (=It's not a secret. A secret is gradable. Something can be more of a secret than something else.)

In the context you have provided I suppose that one can give only an opinion on how a Nintendo game, metaphorically speaking, is, so:

You don't get another chance. Life is not a Nintendo game.

and

You don't get another chance. Life is no Nintendo game.

are both correct.

Reference: English Grammar Today (Cambridge)

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He is no Albert Einstein - In this case Albert Einstein becomes a type of person. ( Smart people can be compared to Albert Einstein. He is not among those people)

He is not Albert Einstein - In this case we are talking about Albert Einstein the person. ( He is John Smith, not Albert Einstein )

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