I know that when it comes to dialogue writing, we can change the subject of the sentence at the end, for example:

"Hello," said John.

"Hi there," replied Mary.

"How are you?" asked John.

"I'm OK," responded Mary.

And so on.

But can we do that with every single verb? For example:

"Stop right now!" ordered the father.

"It's a good song," recognized the girl.

"He'll be here tomorrow," guaranteed Thomas.

"I'll be all right," promised the boy.

In these sentences, is it understandable that the noun at the end is the subject and not the direct object of the sentence? Or is it confusing for a native reader of English?

Thank you for your replies.

  • 'Recognize' is at best a very unusual quotative verb; can you find a supporting reference (rather than a few examples on the internet)? The rest of your examples are fine with or without inversion after the quote (though I'd say inversion is usual with 'say'). Mar 23, 2018 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, that's perfectly normal word order with quoted speech, regardless of the verb. Here's a rather technical article all about the order of the portions of a sentence that reports speech: http://journals.openedition.org/erea/3406. It mostly uses forms of "say" in its examples, but it shows uses of alternatives as well.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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