Yea vs. Yeah: Saying Yes In Different Ways

, Staff Writer
Updated November 24, 2021
Yea - Victorian People Voting  vs Yeah - Young Man With Smartphone
    Yea - Victorian People Voting vs Yeah - Young Man With Smartphone
    adekvat / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

When choosing a synonym for yes, yeah is probably the first word that comes to mind. However, some people may confuse yea with yeah and use the spellings interchangeably when in fact they are two separate words. Discover when and how to use yea and yeah.

The Difference Between Yea and Yeah

While yea and yeah look similar and have the same meaning, they do not sound alike and are typically used in different contexts. Yea (pronounced yay) comes from the Old English gēa. On the other hand, yeah (pronounced yah) is by far the more common variation and is an informal version of yes.

  • yea - an old-fashioned way of saying yes used primarily in voting

  • yeah - informal version of yes

How and When to Use Yea

Yea is a formal, old-fashioned version of yes and is typically only used in voting or if you are writing a period piece. For example:

  • All in favor, say yea.

  • I vote yea on the proposal.

  • The author used yea instead of yes because her book was set in the Middle Ages.


Using Yeah in a Sentence

While yea is formal and rarely used, yeah is standard in everyday conversation and writing.

  • I asked if he was ready and he said, “Yeah.”

  • Yeah, I agree.

  • Oh yeah, I remember that!

What about Yay?

Yea and yay sound alike, making them homophones, but they have different and unrelated meanings. Yay is an exclamation of excitement, triumph or approval. It is also sometimes used to describe a particular or undefined length or degree of something.

  • Yay! I caught a fish!

  • The audience cheered “yay” when the team scored a goal.

  • The plank of wood is about yay long.

How to Remember the Difference

Yea sounds like nay and has the opposite meaning. Nay is a formal, old-fashioned way of saying “no,” and yea is a formal, old-fashioned way of saying “yes.” To remember yeah, recall that it is spelled with an "h."


Explore Words With Two Correct Spellings

There are numerous words that have two correct spellings that are meant to be used in different contexts or where one is favored by different writing guides. For example, both blond and blonde are correct, but which should you use and when? Then check out when to use practice and practise.