‘Said' or 'Say': Which is Correct Grammar?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 24, 2023

If you are wondering whether 'say' or 'said' is correct grammar, this guide will help!

Before we get into it, here is a quick answer: 

  • 'Say' is a verb used to say that someone utters or expresses something in words. 
  • 'Said' is the past tense form of the verb 'say.'

Each term is grammatically correct in different contexts. So, keep reading to learn how and when to use each.

Which is Correct Grammar, 'Said' or 'Say?'

Both of these words are grammatically correct, depending on their use.

If you are speaking in the present tense, you use 'say.' When you are writing in the past tense, the correct word is 'said.'

Definition of 'Said': What Does 'Said' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists 'said' as a verb defined as:

  • The past tense and past participle forms of say

'Said' can also be an adjective that means:

  • Aforementioned

Synonyms of 'Said'

Synonyms are words you can use in place of other words. So, if you are writing a lengthy text, you can use these words interchangeably with 'said.'

  • Aforementioned
  • Above
  • Aforesaid
  • Foregoing
  • Introductory
  • Precedent
  • Preceding
  • Former
  • Prior
  • Antecedent
  • Erstwhile
  • Anterior
  • Such

Definition of 'Say': What Does 'Say' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'say' as a verb that means:

  • To state or express in words
  • To utter
  • To pronounce
  • To show or indicate
  • To suppose or assume
  • To communicate or express vocally
  • To express one's thoughts
  • To speak

'Say' can also be a noun that means:

  • The expression of an opinion
  • A power or right to impact the outcome of something
  • A statement or something that is said

'Say' can also be an adverb that means:

  • Approximately or about
  • As or for example

Synonyms of 'Say'

  • Tell
  • Express
  • Speak
  • Discuss
  • Utter
  • Verbalize
  • State
  • Give
  • Share
  • Indicate
  • Point
  • Shout
  • Publish
  • Post
  • Proclaim
  • Declare
  • Voice
  • Affirm
  • Whisper
  • Word
  • Phrase
  • Advertise
  • Ventilate
  • Avow
  • Mouth
  • Air
  • Avow
  • Remark
  • Breathe
  • Gasp
  • Remark
  • Blabber
  • Lip
  • Spout
  • Splutter
  • Formulize

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Said' and 'Say'

When you are learning new terms, it is important to pay attention to their pronunciation. Improper pronunciation can make you look unknowledgeable and affect your credibility.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can reference for 'said' and 'say.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'said':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'say':

When and How to Use 'Said' vs. 'Say'

You learned that 'said' is the past tense form of 'say.' However, even after learning the meanings of words, it can be challenging to know when to use the past tense and when to use the present tense of a word.

So, here are some tips to help you learn when and how to use 'said' and 'say.' 

  • Use 'said' when you are referring to something someone uttered or expressed in the past.

For example, you could say:

I can't believe you said that I was the one who vandalized the school last week. You know that is not true. 

  • Use 'say' in the present tense.

As an example, you might hear someone say:

Do not say that! When you talk badly about yourself, you negatively affect your self-confidence. 

  • Use 'said' when you are talking about how you felt when someone said something.

So, you could say:

I felt horrible when you said that you would never trust me again. 

  • Use 'say' to indicate how something makes you feel when someone says it.

For example, I might say:

When you say that, I get angry.

Sample Sentences Using 'Said' or 'Say'

Here are some sample sentences. Read them to ensure you know and remember how to use both of these words in different contexts.


  • I can't believe you did this to me. You said you would never hurt me.
  • I said I needed the report on my desk before my morning meeting. Why are you bringing it to me at 2 p.m.?
  • If you said everything that you felt, you might not have any friends.
  • The comments were well said, but they were not well received.
  • You should not have said that to my boss. You almost got me fired.


  • I wouldn't say that if I were you. If your girlfriend hears you, it will hurt her feelings.
  • If I say something, I expect you to listen.
  • During active listening, you listen to all of what the speaker says and ensure you understand before you reply.
  • I feel bad when I say things like that.
  • Think about what you are going to tell her because once you say it, it can't be taken back.
  • We should not say things we do not mean.


  • Suppose I said that to you, your feelings would be hurt. So, why would you say that to me?
  • I have never been able to bring myself to say the things he said to me during that conversation.
  • If you think you should say it, I am sure it needs to be said.
  • Before you say anything, you should ask yourself how it would affect you if someone said it to you. In other words, put yourself in their shoes.
  • If you said that to her, what do you think she would say to you?

Recap: Which is Grammatically Correct, 'Said' or 'Say?'

Wow! We covered a ton of information in this post. So, let's recap what you learned about whether 'said' or 'say' is grammatically correct: 

  • You use 'said' grammatically when you are speaking in the past tense. 
  • 'Say' is a present tense verb. So, you use it when you are writing in the active voice. 

Most native speakers know that 'said' and 'say' are two different forms of the same verb. However, for English learners, remembering the difference between the two forms of the word might be challenging.

So, if you find yourself questioning which of these words to use in the future, you can always return to this page for a quick recap of this lesson.

You can also learn about hundreds of other commonly mispronounced, misspelled, and misused words in the confusing words section here.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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