Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I want to know if there are any rules regarding using said before or after a name. For example,

"I am going to the bank," said John.

or

"I am going to the bank," John said.

Which is correct?

share|improve this question
    
+1 I've been meaning to ask such a question (slightly different but similar enough that it's probably a duplicate now). –  Jim May 17 '12 at 2:27
    
+1 good question :) –  user21032 May 17 '12 at 7:07
add comment

2 Answers

It’s customary to use inversion only if the attribution follows the quote, not if it precedes it. So:

  • John said, “I am going to the bank.”
  • “I am going to the bank,” said John.
share|improve this answer
1  
That said, you can use non-inversion at the end of the quote, too: "I am going to the bank," John said. –  J.R. May 17 '12 at 1:28
    
" ... not if it pr ecedes it ..." –  Kris May 17 '12 at 5:31
    
@J.R. Or inversion before it. –  Kris May 17 '12 at 5:34
    
There is difference between AmE and BrE. +1 anyway. But you should explain this difference. –  user21032 May 17 '12 at 6:57
    
@Kris: Said John, "Yes, one can use inversion before as well, but I think that's less customary than the other three forms." I don't want to stray too far from tchrist's point. –  J.R. May 17 '12 at 8:51
show 7 more comments

Either form you gave is fine. Moreover, either of these forms can also be used in the middle of a quote, too:

"I am going to the bank," said John, "before it closes."
"I am going to the bank," John said, "to deposit some cash."

In writing, you probably want to avoid using the same form, in the same relative location, over an extended dialogue. That would get wearisome:

"I am going to the bank before it closes," said John.
"Maybe I should come with you," said Mark.
"Fine with me. There's plenty of room," said John.
"We'd better hurry. I think the bank closes in 15 minutes," said Mark.
"Well, then, let's not just stand here talking," said John.

Instead, something more like:

"I am going to the bank before it closes," said John.
"Maybe I should come with you," Mark replied.
"Fine with me. There's plenty of room."

You get the idea. (If I delve into it any more deeply than that, this'll get migrated to Writers.SE.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.