Alternative ways of saying ‘to say’

If you want to say something, there are a million ways in which you can say it. Harshly, comedically, romantically, angrily and softly are just a few examples. The English language is full of alternative ways of saying ‘to say’ that allow you to express exactly how a word or phrase has been said, whether it’s a speech being delivered by a politician assertively, or a secret being whispered quietly.

So the next time you’re using speech in some of your writing, try one of these words in place of ‘he said’ or ‘she said’. It will help to liven up your writing, making it more descriptive, and you’ll boost your English vocabulary too.

To divulge

If you’re a spy, it’s your job not to divulge any state information. And you might well get into trouble for divulging any of your friends secrets. To divulge means to make known something that is private or secret. Its first known use can be dated back to the 15th century, and it comes from the Latin word divulgare meaning to make known, which itself comes from two Latin words being stuck together – dis- meaning among and vulgus meaning the common people.

To declare

While you might whisper a divulgence quietly, knowing that you’re saying something you shouldn’t be, to declare something means the opposite – you often express it loudly and clearly. Declare means to state formally or officially, or to state something with force and authority – to declare war, for example. You might also be asked by customs at the airport whether you have anything to declare. It comes from the Latin de- and clarare meaning to make clear – and if you’ve ever watched a film set in the deep south of America, like Gone with the Wind, I do declare you’ll definitely have heard it used as an exclamation too.

To suggest

When you suggest something you’re not saying it with the force and authority you might use when you declare something – instead, you’re simply offering something for consideration, or proposing something. Say you’ve checked the weather forecast for the weekend and Saturday is going to be sunny and hot – you might suggest to your friends that you go for a picnic or have a barbecue. You wouldn’t divulge it, because it’s not a secret, and you wouldn’t declare it, because your friends might think you were being too bossy and forceful. And so we’re starting to see that choosing the right word for ‘say’ can make all the difference to the meaning of a sentence.

To announce

Here’s a word that you can use to talk about something that’s being said out loud and clear, often addressed to a group. To announce means to make something public, often in a formal way. You might throw a party and announce to everyone there that you are getting married, or see how quickly everyone rushed to the canteen when you announce to the office that chocolate cake’s on today’s lunch menu. It’s also used to proclaim the arrival of someone or something, like Apple announcing the launch of their new iPhone. It used to be a tradition for each guest to be announced on arrival, and you’ll still see this happening at formal occasions and parties. It comes from the Latin ad- and nuntiare meaning to report.

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