Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: say; state, vb.

say; state, vb. Whenever possible, use “say” rather than “state.” The latter typically sounds stilted. But there is a substantive as well as a tonal difference: “say” means “to tell; to relate,” while “state” means “to set out (formally); to make a specific declaration.” Theodore Bernstein, the assistant managing editor of The New York Times, ridiculed his colleagues’ overreliance on synonyms of “said”: “In the days of our forefathers Tom Swift almost never said anything; he usually averred, asseverated, smiled, chuckled, grinned (plainly or mischievously), groaned, expostulated, ejaculated, declared, or asserted. . . . The simple verb said never seems to be good for more than one inning; then writers or editors feel they must rush in all kinds of bush-league relief pitchers.” The Careful Writer 283-84 (1965). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Most of the schoolchildren today are native speakers of some sort of English. Since it’s deemed dangerous to self-esteem to point out errors, the students who don’t use the language correctly don’t get much help.” Mary Newton Brudner, The Grammar Lady 23 (2000).
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