Dialogue Tags

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

dialogue tags

The name comes first in dialogue tags.

Let’s say you’re writing a brilliant piece of dialogue for your novel: “The zombie was wearing a pink carnation.” Is it said Squiggly? or Squiggly said?

I always have to look that up. It’s a ubiquitous thing. You probably see dialogue or a quotation in a news story 100 times a day, but for my brain, it’s background noise. It doesn’t register.

Here's the answer: The name comes first in dialogue tags.

“The zombie was wearing a pink carnation,” Squiggly said. 

‘He Said’ or ‘Said He’?

It’s the same for pronouns. The pronoun comes first too.

“The zombie was wearing a pink carnation,” he said.

From now on, I’ll try to remember that who said it is the important part, so it comes first, and you can remember it that way too. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.