I've always said things like "If you ate the said candy." and "If you count the said rocks."

I've also heard many people say "If you ate said candy." and "If you count said rocks."

This always sounds to me similar to "If you grab chair." It makes sense sometimes, like in instruction manuals, but you don't hear people say that in real life.

Which one is correct?

  • 4
    See this question on linguistics.SE. A short summary of one of the answers: used in this way "said" is predominantly found in legalese, and legalese often leaves out articles that wouldn't be omitted in ordinary English: "In this action, plaintiff seeks damages for ..." – Peter Shor Feb 17 '13 at 15:08
  • Very similar to online "OP's question was ..." which drove me crazy at first; I wanted it to be "The OP's question..." – Jim Feb 17 '13 at 18:27

When used in this way, said is normally preceded by the. The definite article is, however, sometimes omitted, as in your examples. When a word is omitted, but can be retrieved from a previous part of the text, the feature is known as ‘ellipsis’. In the case of said, it probably occurs mostly in speech, rather than in formal prose, and may sometimes be intended to be amusing. My personal view is that said as used in this way, with or without the, is best avoided. It rarely adds anything useful and almost has the status of a cliché.

  • I suspect that if you're a lawyer, there are good reasons for using said in this way, with or without the. (Although I'm not a lawyer, so this is just a guess.) – Peter Shor Feb 17 '13 at 15:18
  • @Peter Shor. Such as being paid for each time they use it? – Barrie England Feb 17 '13 at 15:20
  • @BarrieEngland ends up with some very weird phrases in patents "the a sensor which...." something to do with it being the specific item being described – mgb Feb 18 '13 at 0:03

Said here is used in the same way that "the, this, that chair" is used. It is used to identify which chair is being discussed.

I could say, "Pick up that chair" or "Pick up the chair" or if somebody had been talking about a chair that, let's say, had a special recline lever and I wished now to refer to it I could say, "Yes, but does said chair [the one you were just saying something about] have a built-in massage function?" I could have as easily said "your chair" or "that chair".

It is often the case that said is used when the object of said is of dubious existence. So if somebody says, "I know of a place where money grows on trees." I might ask, "Oh, really? How do you get to said place?" By which I mean, I agree you've said it exists, but I don't really believe you.

Having said all that, using "the said" together is at least not idiomatic if not ungrammatical.

  • But in this case, 'said' is being used as an adjective, so by your logic we should be able to say "Pick up red chair.", and yet no one does. – user912 Feb 17 '13 at 6:12
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    @user912: No, Jim is arguing that "said", used in this way, qualifies as a determiner. I think he's probably wrong, but "the this chair" is ungrammatical, so if "said" were indeed a determiner "the said child" would be ungrammatical. – Peter Shor Feb 17 '13 at 15:12
  • @PeterShor- you make a compelling point with "the this chair". I may be just so used to seeing this in legalese that I don't even miss the the. books.google.com/ngrams/… and books.google.com/ngrams/… – Jim Feb 17 '13 at 18:30
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    It is interesting how there seems to be a more or less tripartite division here: those to whom the article seems lacking when omitted; those who accept both equally; and those to whom the article is redundant when present. Like Jim, I belong to the latter camp: ‘the said items’ is unidiomatic, bordering on ungrammatical, for me, whereas ‘said items’ is just fine. ‘Said’ here is so entirely determinative in my head that adjectival use is quite impossible. I am apparently in the minority, though. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 12 '13 at 11:30
  • @Jim, I think the question is "How do you get to said place" vs "*How do you get to the said place": Which is grammatical? Or, seeing that they are both grammatical, what's the difference between? – Pacerier May 8 '17 at 5:40

Legal writing authority Bryan Garner says the following about “the said”:

The said. As used in legal writing, the word said is a Middle-English sibling aforesaid, having the sense "above-stated." Originally legal writers would write the said defendant-and still do in BrE-just as they would write the aforesaid defendant or the above-stated defendant. In AmE, however, the was dropped before said, which has come to act almost as an article. Hence the said seems redundant to American ears, though it was well established at one time. It still occasionally appears in American cases, but more often in British ones: "J.W.T. had induced his wife to furnish him money with which to acquire the said [omit said] property."/ "The transaction resulted in an exorbitant profit to the said [omit said] defendant." (Eng.)

Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd ed., p.779

  • What are some books equal to the level of Garner's? – Pacerier May 8 '17 at 5:43
  • @Pacerier Garner is pretty much the legal English guru, so there are not many rivals to his books. But, the following I think are helpful, at least for the same "plain English" style: Wydick, "Plain English for Lawyers"; Kimble, "Lifting the Fog of Legalese." The Michigan Bar Plain-English columns are also useful: michbar.org/generalinfo/plainenglish/home – curious-proofreader May 11 '17 at 1:47

From Thou Shall Not Use Comic Sans: "I have to be careful here as I don’t want anyone to think I’m out to dismiss design annuals. I love design annuals and as I type this I’m sitting with my back to a groaning shelf—full of the said items."

Listen to how redundant it sounds repeating 'design annuals': "I have to be careful here as I don’t want anyone to think I’m out to dismiss design annuals. I love design annuals and as I type this I’m sitting with my back to a groaning shelf—full of design annuals."

Jim: "Oh, really? How do you get to said place?" sounds ridiculous. No one talks like that. Barrie: It's not about being useful, or a cliché. It's a matter of style.

  • 'annuals' or 'manuals'? – Mitch Aug 12 '13 at 10:46
  • Annuals Mitch. Nothing to say about 'Thou Shall'? – caduceus Aug 12 '13 at 10:50
  • So I'm guessing "design annuals" come out every year? Is that what you're talking about? I don't know, I don't have much experience with that culture. – Mitch Aug 12 '13 at 12:42

protected by tchrist Jan 24 '17 at 13:36

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