"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." – James 5:12
Confused about yea, yeah, and yay? It’s no wonder since "yay" is often misspelled "yea". "Yeah" is often misspelled "yea" and so forth.
The informal, yet modern "yeah" (pronounced ya, as in yam) and the archaic "yea" are synonyms (they mean the same thing), both mean "yes". Other synonyms for yea include affirmative and aye. However, "yea" (pronounced "yay" – rhymes with "hey" and "nay") is not used in modern speech save the occasional "yea" in a vote as in, "The yeas have it by a vote of three to one." Or, when one is quoting from Scripture or other ancient text. Yea can be both an noun and an adjective.
Noun – He was a yea.
Adverb – (meaning: not only so, but – used to introduce a more explicit or emphatic phrase)
"And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:" – Hebrews 11:36
– (meaning: in truth, verily)
"Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" – Genesis 3:1
Yay is an interjection (like Oh!). It is "used as an exclamation of pleasure, approval, elation, or victory." –The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
So, to recap:
Yeah is modern slang for yes. (Yeah, right!)
Yea is an old-fashioned yes. ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." – Psalm 23:4
Yay is an exclamation of joy, or to indicate size (yay high)
Now, for the tips:
Yay ends in "y" like joy, so use yay to mean, "Yay, team!"
And remember that the "h" at the end of yea, changes the pronunciation from "yay" to "ya" (as in yap or yam) Stress the "h" when you read/write "yeah" (to yourself, otherwise it may seem a little weird). And yea is reserved for old writings and votes.
Also, yeah and yea both mean yes and all three begin ye. YES!
And "yeh", well, that’s just wrong!
Yee-Haw! That is all. 🙂