40 neutral and non-neutral alternatives to ‘said’

Communicators should avoid substitutions that imply bias or are subjective statements. Here are some options that fit the bill—and others to avoid.

Are you tired of the word “said”?

It’s used so frequently that it’s become invisible. Read any article in the mainstream media and count how many times the word “said” or “says” is used.

In journalism school, PR pros learn that it’s the only word you could use to attribute speech. It’s presented as an unbreakable rule—ignore it at your peril.

The reason for this restriction is the need to maintain impartiality. When it comes to quoting what someone has said, journalists don’t want to inject subjectivity into their reporting. They must stay out of the story and present the facts clearly. “Said” is neutral. “Claimed” is not.

These same style rules carry over to PR, since PR pros want to use the same language journalists use. For those who want to break free and don’t care if they commit a stylistic heresy, here are a few alternatives to “said” that can spice up your copy but remain impartial.

Neutral substitutions

  • Added
  • Answered
  • Conveyed
  • Commented
  • Declared
  • Delivered
  • Disclosed
  • Imparted
  • Mentioned
  • Put forth
  • Put into words
  • Remarked
  • Repeated
  • Replied
  • Reported
  • Responded
  • Revealed
  • Stated
  • Verbalized
  • Voiced

Other alternatives imply a judgment from the author, and therefore will run afoul of journalists and discerning readers objectivity radar every time.

Non-neutral substitutions

  • Affirmed
  • Alleged
  • Argued
  • Asserted
  • Attested
  • Claimed
  • Conjectured
  • Divulged
  • Exclaimed
  • Guessed
  • Implied
  • Opined
  • Proclaimed
  • Professed
  • Pronounced
  • Recited
  • Rehearsed
  • Rejoined
  • Retorted
  • Suggested
  • Uttered

What do you think? Do you ever use alternatives to “said”?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her posts on writing and journalistic heresy at impertinentremarks.com.

(Image via)


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.