Are «said I» and «I said» interchangeable? «Said I» is pretty uncommon, or so I thought.

The sentence in question looks like so: «"It's not going to be your way," — said I.» Or it could be «"It's not going to be your way," — I said

Which one sounds better?

(same question for "exclaimed I" vs. "I exclaimed", etc.)

  • Word order doesn't matter if the person's name is used. If a pronoun is used, prefer to place it before the verb.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:26
  • 2
    "This is a strange question", said I. Inverting the standard English subject/verb sequence is usually archaic/formal/literary, so obviously unless you're deliberately seeking such an effect, you should stick to the standard version. As for "Good grief!", exclaimed I, I suspect there might be something else involved there (it doesn't even sound "archaic" to me - just daft). Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:28
  • @FumbleFingers, the policeman is a completely different case. I'm asking specifically about pronouns.
    – Mikhail
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:39
  • @tchrist: I think you'd have to admit that word order is infinitely more likely to occur in a written narrative than in an ordinary conversation. It's quite true, as Robusto says, that the inverted sequence is much more "acceptable" when it doesn't involve a pronoun. But putting aside the trivial matter of "Which sounds better?", the issue here seems to be "Why does said work, but not, say, exclaimed?". Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:43
  • @Fumble Fingers Try When I went to the bar from Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe without the inversion! youtube.com/watch?v=zHuap75z05o
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


In American English you would never use "Said I" but in Ireland or parts of England using conversational English it would be very common to speak in this way. I would never recommend using this formally in written documents unless you are writing some personal narrative.

  • 1
    I don't really think there are many dialectal speakers left who still use that inverted sequence, except somewhat facetiously. And to be honest I doubt they were ever a majority in any spoken dialect. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:46
  • Unless you have lived in Dublin Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 20:34

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