Yeah, yay, yah & ya

Do you know the difference between yeah, yay, yah, ya and yea?

I certainly would not consider myself the spelling expert but I often see “yeah” and “yay” misused frequently so I thought I’d have a little education session:

  • Yeah - pronounced ye-uh as in yes
    “Hey Jen, are you going to with us to the mall?”- girl a; “Yeah, I’ll go”- girl b
  • Yay – rhymes with and is a synonym of hooray. It’s used in cases of excitement.
    “Did I tell you I won an ipod?” – girl a; “No! Oh that is exciting. Yay!” – girl b
  • Yah – is also an expression of agreement but there is no excitement.
    “Hey are you ready to go” – girl a; “yah” – girl b
  • Ya – means you
    “How are ya?”
  • Yea – is a very old-fashioned formal way of saying “yes,” used mainly in voting. It’s the opposite of—and rhymes with—“nay.”
    “All in favor say yea, all opposed nay.”
  • and if that wasn’t confusing enough “yay” can also refer to height, as in “when I was yay big” [holding hand up]

Did you catch all that?

If you need more edumacation (yes, that was a joke) on the subject I suggest Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips) she also has a Podcast.

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14 comments
Lee
Lee

i was glad to learn the way to spell yay,  i was spelling yah, opposite of hay!!  now i know,  thank you.

Sandra
Sandra

Yeah, this is a good explanation.

Christopherwbounds
Christopherwbounds

"Hey Jen, are you going to with us to the mall"- girl a; "Yeah, I’ll go"- girl b I would not consider you to be an expert on grammar either.

Jack
Jack

Yay! Someone who agrees with me...

Deanna
Deanna

Thanks, GENPINK, for clarifying these as I, too, have seen variations and had become totally confused as to which one is correct usage.

Jody
Jody

Yeah, this is a good explanation. Yay, I'm glad I found this site!

Lisa
Lisa

I agree that "yay" and "yeah" are clearly different, but there are gray areas. I'm curious how old the person was who said (in Melanie's post), "I'm going to the beach today! Yeah!" In the late 80's, people also used "Yeah" (pronounced close to ye-uh as described above) as an exclamation of joy: think of the song "Oh, yeah!" in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." To me, it would be okay to use "yeah" in that sentence if it's really pronounced as "yeah" and not "yay."

Melanie
Melanie

I hate when I see people use "yeah" when they really mean "yay". Like, "I'm going to the beach today! Yeah!"! Why dont they understand that is just wrong...it doesnt even sound right! I am no grammer or spelling expert, but that seems so obvious to me.

jack the ripper
jack the ripper

Thank you I have a friend who constantly claims that yea- is the same as yay. and we always use it as an abbreviation for yeah.

Margie Blystone
Margie Blystone

I Googled this and your site came up... I'm ALWAYS getting these wrong. So now I'm bookmarking this page for the next time I get confused. Thanks! :-)

deanna
deanna

I believe your grammer is correctly spelled, grammar. Sorry, just had to mention it. My husband is a fanatic on correct spelling and pronounciation, particularly...congratulations vs.congradulations. One hears so many people incorrectly spell and pronounce that word.

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  1. [...] all opposed say yay – yeah that is my pet peeve. Check out my previous post if you want to know the different between yeah, yay, & yea. [...]