22 ways to say yes
The word yes is great and all … but there’s plenty of other ways you can offer someone a verbal go-ahead. So if you feel like dipping your toes into the wild waters of alternative affirmations, then take a gander at the list below. If you’re feeling brave, deploy an aye aye in a business meeting or let loose a fo’ shizzle when someone asks if you’d like to go grab an ice cream. Let’s have a look at other ways to say yes! (And then, once you’re done, there are 29 ways to say no.)
You can probably do better than this most standard of affirmations. The word yes, by the way, is exactly as old as you’d expect, dating all the way back to the Old English gēse, gīse, probably from an unrecorded phrase meaning ‘may it be so’.
If you want to inject an archaic flavour into your response, then give yea a try. It’s also used as the response for an affirmative vote in the US Congress, so you can feel legislative as well as archaic!
Referred to by some as America’s greatest contribution to the English language, OK has a long and complicated history.
The goofy younger brother of OK, okey-dokey is a surefire way to offer ad laidback, jokey affirmative.
5. by all means
By which means? All of them! This imploring affirmative suggests that ‘yes’ is being offered in every way possible. Don’t forget about its negating cousin, by no means.
One way to give an affirmation is, well, to just say affirmative! Largely a North American interjection, affirmative is also heard in the phrase ‘in the affirmative’, as in ‘you answered in the affirmative when I asked about that ice cream’.
7. aye aye
You can almost hear the waves and taste the salty breeze when you use this one. This seaworthy affirmation is often heard in the fuller ‘aye aye, Captain’. Of course, the shorter aye is more common, but far less seaworthy (and, well, fun).
In radio communication, roger is used to acknowledge receipt of a message. In extended use, though, we’ve been deploying roger for quite some time. ‘Can you go grab me an ice cream?’ ‘Roger!’
If you’ve got that hankering for a radio reference, but roger doesn’t quite suit you, then consider the brisk and official 10-4, which is part of the ‘ten-code’, the code of signals (all beginning with the number 10) originally used in police radio communication in the US and later adopted by Citizens’ Band radio operators. The phrase means ‘message received’.
The quintessential verbalized shrug, uh-huh conveys assent, but is also one of the more noncommittal ways to say yes.
Ah! Here’s an especially British way to go about it. Of course, you can leave off the ‘o’ on the end and leave it at ‘right!’, but how chipper does that sound in comparison? Not at all as chipper.
12. very well
Both very well and very good convey a flavour of acceptance rather than excitement. Can you hear that slight note of exasperation? ‘Oh, very well then, come inside …’
Yup and its variation yep are such a joy to say because they all have that delightful plosive ‘p’.
Yuppers (and its cousin yeppers) boldly go for the extension. Perhaps best used when it comes to childish pursuits, as in: ‘You want more cotton candy?!’ ‘Yuppers!’
15. right on
Feeling an overwhelming sense of approval? Then we recommend the hearty right on as a rejoinder.
Used in South African English (drawn from Dutch), this ‘yes’ interjection is also found in German. This raucous affirmation is also sometimes spelled yah.
Besides guiding the conversation straight into a thicket of Airplane! references, surely also does a fine job of imparting enthusiastic assent.
Want to insert a little religious flavour into your response? Have a go with amen, which goes all the way back to the Hebrew word āmēn, meaning ‘truth, certainty’. Usually uttered at the end of a prayer or hymn, meaning ‘so be it’, amen is also used to express agreement or assent, sometimes in the form amen to that.
19. fo’ shizzle
Do you dare? If you’re feeling gutsy, drop fo’ shizzle into your lexicon. Be warned, though, that shizzle on its own is typically a euphemism for ‘shit’. The response for (or fo’) shizzle, on the other hand, is roughly equivalent to for sure or definitely.
You might risk sounding a little spaced-out with this one, but it’s so totally worth the attempt.
This is the response for someone who hemmed and hawed, but came down on the ‘yes’ side eventually.
Gender of the addressee aside, this reply can offer either deep-seated respect or canny insubordination.
If an affirmation isn’t quite the interjection you’re looking for, then you should also check out 34 interjections you should be using.