Learned words | Blog
Learning dialog tags


Learning dialog tags

While few of these dialogue tags are used in spoken language, you'll find them in any fiction book you read. How many do you know?

Dialogue tags are used to indicate speech in writing.

     Clara asked, "Just what is it with John?!
     He's always in a bad mood these days."
     "I think he must be running on too little sleep
     and too much caffeine." Jane said.

Although said and asked are most common, there are hundreds of others that you can use to show how the character is speaking, or the mood.

     John growled at Clara, "Where have you put my notes?
     I need them right now!"
     "I haven't seen your notes." Clara answered.

Be careful though – using too many different dialogue tags will draw attention to the tags themselves and distract from the conversation. Best to use them sparingly!

Some authors don’t like using physical gestures as dialogue tags – it’s hard to smile and talk at the same time! However, you can use them to show movement in between spoken lines.

     "I'll be back before you know it." Jake smiled.
     Jane nodded. "See you then."

And some authors, like Stephen King, don’t like anything other than the plain old “said”.

  1. How many different dialogue tags can you think of?
  2. How many do you use?
  3. Do exactly what Stephen King says not to do in his fabulous book On Writing, and tell a story using as many of these dialogue tags as you can.

This post contains an affiliate link. I highly recommend On Writing because it is such an awesome book for both writers of all types and abilities, and also for language students.

Categories | VOCABULARY
Tags | language learning, vocabulary
21 May 2013