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Language Arts

Yea vs. Yeah

When it comes to easily confused works, Yea vs. Yeah are two of the most commonly misused words. They are only different by one letter, but are not interchangeable. Keep reading to find out more about the difference in the meaning between yea and yeah.

Yea and yeah are two of the most easily confused words. In the English language you will find quite the debate among the words yea vs. yeah. In many instances you can still add the word yay to that debate. When writing the difference of yea vs. yeah it is also important to understand the meaning of these expressions and where they originated to help tell the difference. It is also important to include yay into the mix of yea vs. yeah because of the way it is also mixed up with the two words in print and publications.

According to the Common Errors in English Usage book written by Paul Brians, the expression yea is a very old fashioned way to say yes and was primarily used in voting at various meetings. When it comes down to the truth of the matter, the word yay is often used interchangeably with yea although it is incorrect. While the two words are pronounced the same, yay is actually a way to indicate a small or short height or size of an object or individual.  For example, "the boy only stood yay high compared to his peers." Some also find the use of yay as an expression of excitement to be acceptable. An example of this would be "Yay! My book was just published." 

An example of both usages of the word being used in a single sentence would be. "The children called out yay because they were so excited to go to the amusement park, but Timmy is only yay big so he wasn't able to ride any of the rides." The difference between the expressions yea vs. yay are probably among the most debated especially because the meaning of yeah, yea and yay are all so old in the English language, it can be difficult to accurately trace the origin and meaning of the words. Yea and yay also sound exactly the same when pronounced so it is easily confused when it is in a written context. 

According to most word usage dictionaries, however, yea is supposed to be used for the excitement meaning as well. Some simply find yay to be an interchangeable form of the word yea in most instances. For example, "Yea! I got a promotion at work."  While many accept the form of yay as interchangeable as yea to express excitement, it is important to know that the usage isn't correct even though many might accept the usage. 

Lastly, we approach the word yeah. This word is not interchangeable with neither yea nor yay. The word actually is an expression of agreement and upon its pronunciation is not a word that can be rhymed with yay or yea. It is pronounced more like "yeh." An example of this word in action would be, "Yeah, let's go to the park."  The expression yeah should not be used when trying to convey excitement like with yay or yea.

There is often much confusion when it comes to knowing the difference between yea vs. yeah as well as the expressions yea vs. yay. When trying to remember how to tell them apart while writing, just keep in mind they all hold different meanings despite sounding similar or exactly the same. 


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