I'm a web developer. I work exclusively with Americans, and when working remotely, we all use Slack. I'll have a habit of replying to yes/no questions with "Yes", while sometimes adding a reason why, e.g. "Yes, we do it that way because the business requires us to." Recently, I had my yearly review with my manager, and he told me that while my English is good, I can tend to come across as terse. I asked him for some examples, and he said that the primary example is that I'll reply with "Yes". He implored me to use a more casual "Yeah" when replying to others, as "Yes" can come across as dismissive and can make it seem that their question is stupid or that I don't have patience for their question.

I take everything in my reviews to heart. I know I can improve my english skills further, but I didn't realize that this was a thing I had to be wary of. I asked my technical lead (one level above me but one level below my manager) about it, and he told me that my boss was being overly sensitive and to ignore the feedback. Should I make a conscious effort to reply exclusively with "Yeah", or is "Yes" appropriate to use?

It may also be worth noting that none of my other coworkers have said anything about me being terse. I didn't post this on The Workplace stack exchange because I feel that this is a language barrier issue with me and not a general workplace question, and I want to ensure that I'm being polite when I'm talking to my boss.

Edit: This is a different question than this existing question because the question is unrelated to my issue and only defines the difference between "yes" and "yeah"

  • 2
    I am gobsmacked. What did your boss say about replying Y/N question with "no"? Should you be saying nah or nope? It's a facetious question, no need to reply. By the way, your English is not "good", it's amazingly good. There was probably one coworker who gave negative feedback and the manager may think it's a problem. I would talk with him again.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 29, 2022 at 0:52
  • Thank you for the information! I really appreciate your comment because I was really scratching my head trying to figure out whether I had been saying the wrong thing during the whole time I've been speaking English. This really helped! Dec 30, 2022 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


Yeah is more casual than "yes".

Anything else is in your boss's imagination. "Yeah" is as terse as "Yes". Using "Yeah" is more dismissive, since using casual forms implies a lack of care.

For me, in a business context, I would use "Yes". I'm not sure what "slack" is, but if it is some kind of text-based chat, then I would certainly not use "yeah" in a business text-based communication. In written English, the correct word is "yes". In spoken English the casual "yeah" is very common and not incorrect.

It is good to give clear and detailed answers, explaining "why" and "how", and not just reply "yeah".

  • Slack is an instant message platform mainly used by businesses (like a more professional version of Discord, if you've ever heard of that).
    – Laurel
    Dec 28, 2022 at 23:49
  • No, I only realy know about normal ways of communication, like fax, or snapchat.
    – James K
    Dec 28, 2022 at 23:53
  • I appreciate your answer! That makes sense, and for most communication, I'll keep saying "Yes". I suspect his main issue is that I'll occasionally reply with just "Yes" and not add additional feedback, like you said; however, I'm surprised he didn't just come out and say that that was the issue if that was really the case. Is it common for American managers to skirt around issues? In Germany, I was always told very plainly whether something I was doing was wrong or not, and I never had a manager that was afraid to tell me exactly what I was doing wrong. Dec 30, 2022 at 5:31

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