One of the first words you learned in English was probably yes. But did you know there is more than one way to say it? Just like how to say no and how to say sorry, there are many different ways to say yes in English. They can be very formal or very informal. Having more than one way to say yes will make you sound more fluent (perfect).
Try some of these new “yes” phrases to your vocabulary to sound more like a native speaker.
We’re sure you know this one already. Yes can be used all the time. However, it is a little more formal. I rarely say yes in my day-to-day life, but it can be used with any person, and at any time.
Q: May I please borrow a pen?
A: Yes, you may.
By all means
By all means is probably the next formal response (answer) after yes. By all means can be very useful in an office situation. It means that someone should go right ahead (directly, freely) and do something. They are (more than) welcome to do so.
Q: Can I borrow your stapler?
A: By all means! Use it for as long as you like.
Of course is a good middle ground when it comes to formality. You can use it quite often, with all different kinds people. It gives the sense that someone is welcome to do something. It is also a more relaxed phrase.
Q: Is it ok if I come by on Friday?
A: Of course! You’re always welcome.
Yeah / Yeah, sure!
Yeah is moving into more informal territory (direction, area). Yeah is familiar and not very formal. My advice (suggestion, tip) would be to use yeah with friends and family, but not in the office. If it’s used in the office, it may seem too informal.
Q: Want to go to the movies this weekend?
A: Yeah, sure. I’m not busy.
Ok is also quite informal. However, it has become very common, so you’ll hear it everywhere. Ok is a catch-all (general) way to say yes in English and can be used anywhere. Just keep in mind when you should be using more formal phrases or terms (words)!
Q: Want to get a drink after work?
A: Ok, sounds like a plan.
Looking for a way to shake up (mix up, say something new) how you say yes in English? Take this radio-inspired phrase. It’s very informal, but can be a lot of fun. Roger that can be good to use with friends. Try it out and see how you like it! It sounds super funny!
Q: Can you send me those photos from last night?
A: Roger that!
Uh-huh is very, very informal. I once read that it is like a verbal shrug (when you move your shoulders up and down), and I think that’s very accurate (true, correct). Uh-huh should not be used in a formal situation. If you do, it may seem like you don’t care. For example, I usually say uh-huh when I’m distracted or working on something. Use it sparingly (very infrequently)!
Q: Do you have a minute?
A: Uh-huh, just give me a second.
Do you have a fun or unique way to say yes in English? Share it with the community in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, a blogger, a yoga instructor, and is the master of saying yes: if there’s a will, there’s a way!