What do we call single word conversation elements such as "Yes!", "Yep" and sounds of hesitation?

  • Are you asking about all single word expressions? Would "Exactly!" qualify? What about "Lunch?" or "Me."?
    – WAF
    Dec 20, 2016 at 13:35
  • Is your question more direct towards discourse analysis/pragmatics, syntax, or lexical analysis/parts of speech classification? This will give you different answers. Wording it as "conversation elements", I assume you are interested in terminology as used in dicourse analysis/pragmatics/...? Dec 20, 2016 at 16:15

3 Answers 3


In terms of parts of speech, words like "Yes", "No", "Hey", "Umm", "Oh", "Well", "Ouch",... are called interjections.

  • French language uses "Euh..." or "Hum" as "sounds of hesitation" "Hum!" is also an interjection, to express incredibility or indignation, some implicit facts... Euh/Hum are often translated with "Hmmm" with English, when translation texts.
    – Quidam
    May 2, 2017 at 13:29

There is AFAIK no common word for all of them. Sounds of hesitation are often called fillers, while short utterances like Yes or Yep are called fragments.


I think the term particle can be used in many cases.


"a word or a part of a word that has a grammatical purpose but often has little or no meaning"

  • 1
    There may be a certain overlap between what the OP is looking for and particles, but there are "conversaion elements" and "sounds of hesitation" which I doubt can be classified as particles (such as "umm" or "ouch", which don't really have a grammatical function or add meaning in combination with other constituents), and on the other hand many, if not most particles don't match the category of what was asked for (like "to get out, where "out" is a particle belonging to a phrasal verb, or question particles). Dec 20, 2016 at 17:32

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