Learn English – difference between “Joe said” and “said Joe”


Does the subject/verb order make a difference when writing a dialog tag?

"The sky is blue," Joe said.

"The sky is blue," said Joe.

Is one preferable over the other? Does one emphasize the speaker (or the method of speech, such as shout) more than the other?

(Personally, I would use the second form to emphasize that Joe made the statement)

Best Answer

OP's second version is standard usage, which is why @Barrie calls it the "uninverted form". But note he's only referring to inversion of subject - verb (the object here being the quoted speech).

The most common structure for English sentences is subject - verb - object...

Joe said "The sky is blue".

...and the most common "sentence inversion" is object - verb subject...

"The sky is blue," said Joe.

There's nothing "ungrammatical" about object - subject - verb as in OP's first version, which may be prefered for stylistic reasons in some contexts. And least common, verb - subject - object is still perfectly valid English too...

Said Joe, "The sky is blue".

...but you'd normally only see this in poetic or other stylised writing, rather than in speech.