Other Words for "Said"

Updated on June 4, 2019
VirginiaLynne profile image

Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.

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Why Otner Words for Said?

Of course, using "he said" and "she said" is 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, 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.

Dialogue Words

angry words
question words
said (neutral)
sad or upset
happy
argued
asked
commented
quavered
giggled
bellowed
questioned
added
stammered
greated
jeered
answered
pointed out
sniffled
smiled
accused
proposed
spoke
wailed
trilled
hissed
queried
observed
wept
marveled
threatened
responded
noted
whimpered
joked
scolded
retorted
went on
whined
laughed
yelled
objected
told
worried
congratulated
screamed
disagreed
mentioned
shrieked
bubbled
stormed
hypothesized
put in
sobbed
chatted

Friends reply, empathize, agree

Choose words for said that convey age and emotion.
Choose words for said that convey age and emotion. | Source

Conflict Words for Said

mean
frightened
sympathized
guilty/sorry
demanded
impored
comforted
admitted
mimicked
trembled
consoled
apologized
ordered
quivered
empathized
pledged
dictated
pleaded
affirmed
promised
sneered
quaked
soothed
swore
mocked
begged
cheered
revealed
screamed
shuttered
purred
sighed
taunted
whispered
urged
confessed
threatened
wailed
related
confided
criticized
cried
offered
explained
swore
prayed
cajoled
lamented

Adverbs to Use with "Said" Words

neutral adverbs
negative adverbs
positive adverbs
absentmindedly
shyly
knowingly
nervously
fervently
proudly
shyly
nervously
fervently
Urgently
rudely
carefully
sheepishly
defiantly
sympathetically
mysteriously
wrongly
cheerfully
cautiously
judgementally
enthusiastically
decidedly
jealously
cleverly
frankly
overconfidently
generously
honestly
sharply
deliberately
powerfully
sternly
helpfully
utterly
suspiciously
truthfully
repeatedly
uselessly
wisely
partially
poorly
thoroughly
Adverbs describe or explain the type of action of verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. Additionally, you can use more than one adverb for emphasis: "Mrs. Ramsey calmly and patiently explained, "Remember adverbs usually, but not always, end in 'ly'."

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
agrees
disagrees
says
complains
says
concurs
refutes
affirms
conceeds
comments
supports
objects
acknowleges
confesses
hints
adds
retorts
pleads
insists
mentions
repeats
taunts
suggests
objects
notes
explains
replies
orders
cautions
offers
maintains
questions
teases
claims
observes
Many of the words used for dialogue can also be used for author tags. The important thing to remember is that you can let your reader know how you feel about this evidence, or how this evidence relates to other quotes you are using by the word you u

Alternatives for "Author"

the author
he/she/they
the article
the writer
the reporter
the research
the researcher
the essayist
the book
the scientist
the journalist
the evidence
the doctor
the narrator
the source
the columnist
the contributer
the piece
Using author tags helps your reader know where you got your ideas.
Using author tags helps your reader know where you got your ideas. | Source

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

  • 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?

    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...

Comments

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    • profile image

      GILDER 

      22 months ago

      all i can say is 'AMAZING'

    • profile image

      Nick V 

      2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Margaret Baule 

      3 years ago

      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 profile image

      BessieBooks 

      4 years ago

      This is really great! Such a useful reference for writers. Thanks virginialyne!

    • profile image

      TylerBush 

      4 years ago

      This is a great tool that even I need help sometimes remembering other words to use instead of said.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great resource for virtually every writer from high school student to published author! Thanks!

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      5 years ago from United States

      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!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      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 profile image

      Eiddwen 

      5 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub and thank you for sharing virginialynne. Voting up and saving.

      eddy.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      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.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      5 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much carter--I did write this for myself as well as other people!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 

      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      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

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