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For example, asking a question like: "Do you want to go to the shop with me?" can be answered with "Yes", but can it be answered with "Okay"?

A similar example that I think doesn't work is: "Do you like ice cream?", which wouldn't seem to work with "Okay", but would with "Yes".

Where is it and isn't it proper English to answer a question with "Okay" in the place of "Yes"?

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    Okay is informal. And it only logically applies when giving agreement to something. Shall we have lunch - Okay. But if you ask Was the Battle of Hastings fought in 1066? - then okay is not a suitable answer.
    – WS2
    Feb 17, 2016 at 22:25
  • I would add that okay means you're willing to go, to spend time with the other person, or because you're bored, but if you say yes, you really want to go. Feb 18, 2016 at 1:17
  • Okay fits grammatically wherever the phrase, “Yes, that’s alright with me.” could also be used.
    – Jim
    Feb 18, 2016 at 4:28
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    yeah, and please make sure you don't use okay where it is clearly a yes or no question. it's highly annoying and can possibly make the recipient very angry because they'll have to again waste energy on asking you what your okay actually means. i hate many people in my life because of this thing. Nov 7, 2017 at 6:21

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Okay is the informal (and somewhat trivial) version of yes, so it is appropriate to use it when agreeing to something, for example, "Would you like to go to the mall?" But when being used as an answer for something that either requires more description or a definitive answer, like "Was there ice cream at the party?" is not acceptable.

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I think the OED's definition of Okay clarifies this nicely. It says "Expressing assent, concession, or approval, esp. with regard to a previous statement or question: yes, all right." So it is only in the sense of expressing approval that okay and yes mean the same thing. Other meanings of yes are not included.

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  • This should be the correct answer, I think. Dec 4, 2017 at 16:15

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