If you’re writing a story, you probably want your characters to talk to each other at some point. (Characters like to do that). But can you avoid the overused word said when describing their conversation? Absolutely you can — and your readers (as well as your characters) will thank you for it.
How To Replace “Said” as a Dialogue Tag
Dialogue tags are those verbs that come after a quotation in a sentence. Usually, the verb is said (because someone just said something). But replacing said can change the entire tone of the dialogue — and it can make your writing more precise.
- “No one likes your apple pie,” said Doris. (Neutral tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie,” asserted Doris. (Confident tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie,” whispered Doris. (Quiet tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie!” snapped Doris. (Angry tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie,” teased Doris. (Mean tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie,” sobbed Doris. (Sad tone)
- “No one likes your apple pie?” asked Doris. (Questioning tone)
Note that changing a dialogue tag can even change the punctuation of the quote. When said becomes snapped, you add an exclamation point to the quote — and when said becomes asked, you add a question mark.
List of Synonyms for “Said”
Synonyms for said help you avoid repetition and make your writing more interesting. A list of said synonyms for a neutral tone could include:
- chimed in
- put forth
- spoke up
- went on
Note: All synonyms are in the past tense, just like said. If you’re writing in the present tense, you’ll need to put these words into the present tense, like says.
“Said” Synonyms for Speaking Quietly
Said (and the synonyms above) are really for those moments when characters are speaking with a normal, neutral tone. But what about those moments when they need to be quieter — either to keep a secret or to hide from the monster in the next room?
“Said” Synonyms for Speaking Loudly
The monster is here — now you’ve got to scare it away, or loudly warn your companions! Choose from the many options for louder ways to say said, depending on how urgent (or angry) your character feels.
Other Words for “Said” by Emotion
Dialogue doesn’t have to be neutral, quiet, or loud to get the point across. The English language is rife with synonyms for said that address any emotion a character may feel, whether it’s joy, despair, or curiosity.
Another Word for “Said” That Shows Happiness
Using certain words can convey affection, from romantic love to parental care. If you want to give this emotional impression, try one of these sympathetic synonyms for said.
Another Word for “Said” That Shows Sadness
Just because characters feel sad doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk. In fact, characters often sob, lament, and snivel their way through a sad conversation.
Another Word for “Said” That Shows Anger
What happens when you want your character’s fury to seep out of their words? Use these synonyms for said for those key moments of anger.
Another Word for “Said” That Shows Fear
How do you convey that a character is very afraid without directly stating “He was afraid”? Use synonyms for said that show various levels of fear.
Another Word for “Said” That Shows Excitement
If you’re nice to your characters, they will show their happiness in loud, exuberant ways. So how do you replace said in those moments?
- cried out
Words To Use Instead of “Said” To Show Uncertainty or Questioning
When a character isn’t stating something, they’re asking it — but is there another word for asked, too? You’re in luck. Asked isn’t your only alternative to said when your characters want to know an answer.
Repetition Is Boring — Yes, We “Said” It
Now that your characters have a bit more to do than simply saying something, it’s time to explore other words you can replace. You may be surprised to find how often you use these common words — and how replacing them can immediately improve your writing.