Synonyms for YES!

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The word yes is one of those words that, unless you’re always in formal situations, is not really used as much as we think it is.

It may have been one of the first English words you learned, and it may have various usages, but there are so many alternatives you could use to make your English sound much more natural. So, let’s go through some synonyms for each usage of yes:

Affirming a statement

The simplest way to use yes is to affirm a statement, or in other words, to say that you think it is true.

A: Is it going to be hot tomorrow?

B: Yes.

A: The meeting’s at 5:30, right?

B: Yes.

But answering with yes can sometimes sound too formal, rigid, or even angry depending on who you’re talking to. Here are some more casual answers you could use:

  • Yeah
  • Yup (Tends to sound more definitive than yeah)
  • Mhm (Can sometimes come off as dismissive)
  • Uh-huh (Same connotations as mhm)

A: Are you going to the movies with us tomorrow?

B: Yes. (Too rigid of a response between friends)

A: Uh, okay… Is everything alright?

B: Yeah, I’m fine…

A: Are you going to the movies with us tomorrow?

B: Yup! (Definitive answer, but still sounds friendly)

A: Cool, see you then!

In the office:

A: Hey, let me know when you’re done with the editing.

B: Mhm. (A dismissive answer that indicates that B is busy)

There’s also a set of expressions you can use to mean that something is definitely true. These are much stronger responses than simply saying yes.

  • For sure
  • Definitely
  • Of course (Implies that the other person should already know)
  • Absolutely (Sounds slightly more enthusiastic)
  • Certainly (More formal-sounding)
  • Indeed (Probably the least commonly used one in the list. It will either sound very formal or purposefully funny.)

A: Is it going to be hot tomorrow?

B: Definitely. I checked the weather this morning.

OR

B: For sure. I checked the weather this morning.

A: Is it going to be hot tomorrow?

B: Of course, it’s July! (Implies that the other person should already know it’s going to be hot)

Visitor: Can turkeys fly?

Zookeeper: Certainly, though when it comes to escaping predators, they prefer to run. (A proper response for a more professional interaction)

A: Do you like 30 Rock?

B: Indeed! It’s one of my favorite shows. (A quirky response made on purpose)

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Agreeing to do something

Let’s say that someone asks you on the spot if you want to do something with them, or maybe they’re asking you for a favor.

  • Do you want to grab dinner sometime this week?
  • Let’s grab dinner sometime this week!
  • Could you take out the trash for me?

How can you respond? You could yes, but once again, that can sound too formal and rigid. So, here are some useful expressions you could use instead:

  • Sure
  • Yeah (Better to use than yup, mhm, etc.)
  • Okay (Can sound more like you’re complying than willfully agreeing, though it depends on your tone of voice)
  • Alright (Same connotation as okay)

A: Do you want to go to the beach?

B: Sure!

OR

B: Yeah!

A: Let’s go to the beach!

B: Okay. (Unenthusiastic response)

OR

B: Alright.

A: Why, you don’t want to?

And then here are some even more enthusiastic responses you could use:

  • For sure
  • Definitely
  • Absolutely
  • Of course (Implies that the person didn’t even need to ask)

A: Could you do me a huge favor?

B: For sure, what’s up?

OR

B: Definitely, what’s up?

OR

B: Absolutely, what’s up?

A: Could you do me a huge favor?

B: Of course. (Like saying, “You don’t even need to ask me”)

There’s one more useful expression you might want to know: by all means. It’s specifically used when someone is asking for permission to do something, and you want to say something like, “Of course!”

A: Could I ask you a question?

B: By all means. What is it?

A: Sorry, do you mind if I squeeze through here?

B: By all means.

Check your Grammar ››

Responding to someone trying to get your attention

If someone is trying to get your attention, either by calling your name or saying “Excuse me,” there are a few things you could say. Yes is one option, and probably the best one to use if you’re in a professional setting or talking to a stranger.

Guest: Excuse me, sir.

Concierge: Yes? How may I help you?

 

Nurse: Dr. Steele?

Doctor: Yes?

Another option is to say Sorry?, but that’s if you really were not expecting someone to try to talk to you.

Nurse: Dr. Steele?

Doctor: Sorry? Right, hold on.

But what if it’s your friend trying to get your attention? Here are some better responses you could use:

  • Yeah?
  • Huh? (Usually said when you’re caught off guard)
  • What’s up? (Said with a rising tone. Especially used if you’re expecting someone to call your name)

Esther: Hey, Cody!

Cody: Yeah?

Esther: Hey, Cody!

Cody: Huh? (Cody is confused about who called his name)

(Students are in a workroom and constantly helping each other)

Natalie: Hey, Spencer?

Spencer: What’s up?

Natalie: Could you show me how to download this program?

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Asking for an affirmation

While you can say yes to affirm what someone else said, you can also use to ask for an affirmation yourself. But surprise, this sounds very formal and even procedural.

Detective: On the night of August the 27th, you were at your house, yes?

Suspect: Yes, sir.

So let’s be a little less dramatic and use one of these tag questions instead:

  • Right?
  • Isn’t it?, Don’t you?, Didn’t you? etc. (Depends on the sentence before it)
  • Huh? (Used when it’s something you just realized yourself)

A: You like mint chocolate chip ice cream, right?

OR

A: You like mint chocolate chip ice cream, don’t you?

B: Yeah, it’s my favorite.

A: It’s pretty chilly out here, huh? (Something you just realized right now)

B: Yeah, I should’ve dressed warmer.

Check your Grammar ››

Letting the other person know you’re listening

If someone is telling you a lengthy story, maybe you want to say something every now and then to let them know you’re listening. You could keep saying yes, but that makes it sound like you’re being interrogated rather than being told a story. So let’s use these instead:

  • Yeah?
  • Uh-huh? or Uh-huh.
  • Mhm? or Mhm.
  • Right. (If you’re being reminded of a story)

A: So Daniel was walking me home one day.

B: Uh-huh.

A: And then he suddenly turned around and said, “I have something to tell you.”

B: Yeah?

A: And you know how secretive he usually is.

B: Right.

Skype English Lesson with a native AMERICAN or BRITISH teacher ››

Celebrating

One of my favorite ways to use the word yes is to celebrate or show that you’re happy/excited about something. It doesn’t sound too formal and gave birth to an extremely popular meme on the internet:   

How could you not love it? Anyway, here are some more normal examples:

A: Yes!! I got two tickets to the festival!

B: Seriously? They usually sell out in seconds.

A: I just passed my audition!

B: Yes!! I knew you could do it!

And some alternatives:

  • Yeah! (But you have to say it very enthusiastically)
  • Aw yeah!
  • Hooray! (Tends to sound cuter)
  • Yay! (Also sounds cute)
  • Woo!
  • Woohoo!
  • Cool!
  • Fantastic!
  • Amazing!
  • Awesome!
  • Hella! (A piece of American slang that I had to throw in)

A: I just passed my audition!

B: Fantastic! I knew you could do it!

A: Woo! I just beat my new high score!

B: How long have you been playing that game?

Kid: Mommy, I got a 100 on my test today!

Mother: Hooray! I’m so proud of you!

Check your Grammar ››

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