Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.
Why Replace "Said"?
"He said" and "she said" are the easiest way to explain who is talking or who you are quoting. However, when you use "said" over and over, it makes your writing boring and repetitive. Using other words for said not only makes you sound more professional, but it can also help you add commentary by letting you put in negatives (yelled, derided, sarcastically implied), positives (complemented, effectively explains, carefully details), or details about the meaning of what was said (repetitively emphasizes, completely refutes, absolutely rebuts). In the examples below, you might notice that I'm also using adverbs (ly words) for emphasis. I give a list of those below too!
How to Write Dialogue
Using other words for said is important when writing dialogue or conversation, whether it is an essay, a novel, a play, or a short story. Alternative verbs for said can help you:
- Convey emotion
- Present character more clearly
- Explain the relationship between the people speaking
Using the list below can help you actually think through the emotions that your character is feeling. I've grouped them according to types of emotions.
|angry words||question words||said (neutral)||sad or upset||happy|
Conflict Words for Said
Adverbs to Use with "Said" Words
|neutral adverbs||negative adverbs||positive adverbs|
Research and Author Tags
When citing research, you need to include the name of the author and the title of the article or book you are using.
Example: According to Robert Klass in "Wonderful Lives of Ants," the ant world is much more like a human society than most of us realize (Klass 45).
Long Paraphrases or Summaries. Many times, you might be paraphrasing or summarizing a source for more than just one sentence. To show the reader that you are continuing to give ideas from that source, you need to use author tags, which means you use the last name of the author and then a verb like "said."
example: Klass says that fire ants have a particularly interesting way of working together to survive a flood. The author describes the situation of an individual fire ant drowning when swept into the water. However, he notes, when the ants link together in a large mass, they can float for days without drowning.
Author Tags and Nouns: For the most professional sounding citations, you need to use alternative words for the name of the author as well as for said as the above example shows. See my chart for a list of good author last name substitutes.
Verb tense: Usually, you will use the present tense of the word for talking about a summary, quotation or paraphrase.
Author Tags List of "Said" Words
|adding to||disagreeing with||positive||negative||neutral|
Alternatives for "Author"
|the author||he/she/they||the article|
How This Makes Writing More Effective
Choosing the right "Said" word can help you put your evaluation of the source into your paper more easily, and show how this source helps present your own ideas. For example, if the source supports you, you can say:
- John Rayburn concurs with...
- Silvia Rath agrees...
- Joshua Reynolds supports the idea that
If the author presents an opposing view, you can make this clear by using:
- John Rayburn disagrees...
- On the other hand, Silvia Rath argues...
- Joshua Reynolds refutes the idea that...
If you want to show that a source is authoritative you can use a reference to their expertise after you have introduced them by name:
- Neil Armstrong disagreed with their findings. After examining the data, this scientist concluded...
- Bernie Sanders has charted his own way in devising public policy. In spite of what others say, this politician disagrees...
- Stephan Hawking decided to examine the theory. Knowing the subject thoroughly, this expert draws the conclusion...
Explaining How to Write Conversation
Questions & Answers
Question: We have to do an essay in class to explain a music video using a type of criticism. So I did the song called "Not Your Barbie Girl" by Ava Max. It is about feminism and how woman and girls should be respected in relationships. In this essay assignment, I have to quote her song many times. What are other words for said/states/says when quoting a song?
Answer: Especially because this song has a strong message, it would be appropriate to say things like:
Max argues in her lyrics that...
The songwriter insists...
The song continues to repeat this theme in the chorus...
When the artist repeats "XXX" she is trying to communicate her belief that...
"XXX" means that she thinks...
Tiny T on January 24, 2020:
I saw this article and am now using some of these words in place of "Said" in my daily conversations. I am constantly impressing my family, friends, and teachers.
GILDER on October 27, 2017:
all i can say is 'AMAZING'
Nick V on August 23, 2016:
Variety is very important in structuring a sentence; it makes reading much more enjoyable. I also found it interesting that you mentioned other criteria, such as using 'concurs' or 'agrees' when it comes to certain types of people.
Margaret Baule on August 26, 2015:
Many times, papers and stories can begin to sound and feel repetitive when the author is constantly using the word "said". This is article is great because it shows words that not only replace "said", but in the same word can show a character's emotion or feeling. "Said" is such a daily part of our vocabulary and is often used in writing but using other words provides variety and shows more of a person's mindset. This article is definitely one to reference when writing dialogue or quotes.
BessieBooks on February 17, 2015:
This is really great! Such a useful reference for writers. Thanks virginialyne!
TylerBush on August 27, 2014:
This is a great tool that even I need help sometimes remembering other words to use instead of said.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 31, 2013:
Great resource for virtually every writer from high school student to published author! Thanks!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 25, 2013:
Thanks Eiddwen and MsDora--I found myself wanting to share this with my own students and to have a reference for myself of the best words to use. Now I just need to get writing!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 25, 2013:
Great reference article. We know that the words on your charts exist, but sometime they just don't come to mind. Thank you for this very helpful presentation.
Eiddwen from Wales on November 25, 2013:
A brilliant hub and thank you for sharing virginialynne. Voting up and saving.
Dianna Mendez on November 23, 2013:
I am definitely keeping this in my library for reference. It is such a small word but written in different settings it can make a thought speak volumes.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 21, 2013:
Thanks so much carter--I did write this for myself as well as other people!
Mary from Cronulla NSW on November 21, 2013:
This is awesome Virginia..I was amazed recently when going through a word repetition edit on one of my manuscripts at how many times I repeated words, one a whole 49 times and of course 'said' came up way too often..really appreciate your clear, informative hubs & will pin on my writing board..Voted def U & A..cheers