I have been watching a French TV series (Les Témoins / Witnesses) with English subtitles.

In one episode I was surprised to hear the main character, a female cop, clearly say "Yes!" (more to herself than the other person) during a phone conversation in which she obtained crucial information about a criminal she was pursuing. Then, after the call ended, she whispered more than spoke "Yes! Yes! Yes!" to herself. Her mood was a mix of relief, excitement, triumph and satisfaction.

This was the only occasion in the entire series that I noticed anyone using English, and I have never personally heard "yes" used in any French conversation. Was this an just an anomaly, or is "yes" now being used in spoken French? If so:

  • If it is used at all, is it only ever used as an exclamation, and never in reply to a question?
  • In what circumstances would its use be generally accepted and understood?
  • How common and widespread is its use?

For the exact context, the phone conversation I am referring to is in Series 2, Episode 6 of Les Témoins between about 49:25 and 49:40.

  • I notice that the popular French YouTuber Cyprien says it a lot.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 2:04
  • 2
    @LukeSawczak I don't know if it is relevant but here is Ngram result that depicts an increasing trend of using yes in French. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Dimitris
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 7:39
  • Yes in French ? Ha! You mean Yaissssssss! ;-) At the moment you realize, understand, learn that something important for you is sucessfull / correct / right / true.
    – MC68020
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 7:43

2 Answers 2


I will answer with a French point of view, I don't know how it is for French speakers outside of France.

We do use Yes as an exclamation, when something cool happened to us / when we won something as you pointed out in your question.
It can also be used as a reply, when something "cool" happened to one of your friend, example:

- Je pars en vacances en Amérique la semaine prochaine.
- Ha yes ! profite bien !

We sometimes use it to replace oui, for example:

- Est-ce que tu pourrais m'envoyer le lien de la vidéo de la dernière fois ?
- Yes ! Je te fais ça tout de suite !

I couldn't tell how often we use Yes, the only thing I can tell you is that we don't use it in really formal situations.

I guess we use it only to sound "cooler" :)

  • 2
    As sad as I feel about it, you are perfectly right. I really noticed this trend was happening when a graphic novel I was reading, and not actually a bad one, made use of this type of exclamation. From then, there was no going back to my happy unknowing state. +1 Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 12:35
  • 1
    Something I forgot to ask is whether "yes" is less likely to be used by older people. Is that the case?
    – skomisa
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 15:51
  • 2
    @skomisa I depends which older person you're talking about. I would guess the proportion of them using it is much lower, but I have heard people in their sixties make occasional use of it. Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 16:02
  • 1
    In Quebec, we have the base use (something cool happening to yourself), but not the other ones.
    – Circeus
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 20:47
  • 1
    In Belgium this is also quite common among the younger generations. My 6 years old kid uses it although she has no knowledge of English
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 9:56

Teenagers and young adults use ’yes !’ when they succeed in doing something, when something great happens to them.

  • Pas sûr que l'on puisse qualifier quelqu'un de 40 ou 50 ans de jeune adulte, mais Ok.
    – XouDo
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 8:55

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