Other Words for "Said"

Updated on August 1, 2016
VirginiaLynne profile image

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

Why You Need Variety of Word Choices

Using "said" over and over makes your writing less effective. "Said" works when you are explaining a single reference to an author's works, or having just one person speak. However, your writing will sound more professional if you use alternative words for said when you have:

  • Longer dialogue
  • More than one person speaking
  • More than one sentence about an author's work

Source

Use in 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 of Words for Said 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

How to Write Good Dialogue

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.

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

Author Tags List

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

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

    Comments

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      • profile image

        GILDER 

        10 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 

        3 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 

        4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

      • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Kearney 

        4 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 

        4 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 

        4 years ago from Wales

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

        eddy.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        4 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 

        4 years ago from United States

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

      • carter06 profile image

        Mary 

        4 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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