1) VERB When you say something, you speak words.

[V with quote] `I'm sorry,' he said...

[V that] She said they were very impressed...

[be V-ed to-inf] Forty-one people are said to have been seriously hurt...

[V n to n] I packed and said goodbye to Charlie...

[V n] I hope you didn't say anything about Gretchen...

[V n] You didn't say much when you telephoned...

[V wh] Did he say where he was going?...

[V so] It doesn't sound exactly orthodox, if I may say so. [Also V to-inf]

2) VERB You use say in expressions such as I would just like to say to introduce what you are actually saying, or to indicate that you are expressing an opinion or admitting a fact. If you state that you can't say something or you wouldn't say something, you are indicating in a polite or indirect way that it is not the case.

[V that] I would just like to say that this is the most hypocritical thing I have ever heard in my life...

[V that] I have to say I didn't even know Fox Lane Police Station existed till about four or five years ago...

[V that] I must say that rather shocked me, too...

[V that] Dead? Well, I can't say I'm sorry.

3) VERB You can mention the contents of a piece of writing by mentioning what it says or what someone says in it.

[V that] The report says there is widespread and routine torture of political prisoners in the country...

[V that] Auntie Winnie wrote back saying Mam wasn't well enough to write...

[V with quote] You can't have one without the other, as the song says...

[it V with quote] `Highly inflammable,' it says on the spare canister...

[V so] Jung believed that God speaks to us in dreams. The Bible says so too.

4) VERB If you say something to yourself, you think it.

[V to pron-refl with quote] Perhaps I'm still dreaming, I said to myself...

[V to pron-refl with quote] `Keep your temper,' he said to himself.

5) N-SING: usu a N, also more/some N If you have a say in something, you have the right to give your opinion and influence decisions relating to it.

You can get married at sixteen, and yet you haven't got a say in the running of the country...

The students wanted more say in the government of the university.

6) VERB You indicate the information given by something such as a clock, dial, or map by mentioning what it says.

[V n] The clock said four minutes past eleven...

[V that] The map says there's six of them.

7) VERB If something says something about a person, situation, or thing, it gives important information about them.

[V amount about n] I think that says a lot about how well Seles is playing...

[V pron about n] The appearance of the place and the building says something about the importance of the project.

8) VERB If something says a lot for a person or thing, it shows that this person or thing is very good or has a lot of good qualities.

[V amount for n] That the Escort is still the nation's bestselling car in 1992 says a lot for the power of Ford's marketing people...

[it V amount for n that] It says much for Brookner's skill that while the book is suffused with sadness, it is never depressing.

9) VERB You use say in expressions such as I'll say that for them and you can say this for them after or before you mention a good quality that someone has, usually when you think they do not have many good qualities.

[V pron for n] He's usually smartly-dressed, I'll say that for him...

[V pron] At the very least, he is devastatingly sure of himself, you can say that.

10) VERB: only imper You can use say when you want to discuss something that might possibly happen or be true.

[V that] Say you lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and dug straight down through the center of the Earth, what country would you come out nearest to?

11) You can use say or let's say when you mention something as an example.

To see the problem here more clearly, let's look at a different biological system, say, an acorn...

Someone with, say, between 300 and 500 acres could be losing thousands of pounds a year.

12) EXCLAM Say is used to attract someone's attention or to express surprise, pleasure, or admiration. [AM, INFORMAL]

Say, Leo, how would you like to have dinner one night, just you and me?

13) PHRASE: V inflects If you say that something says it all, you mean that it shows you very clearly the truth about a situation or someone's feelings.

This is my third visit in a week, which says it all.

14) CONVENTION (feelings) You can use `You don't say' to express surprise at what someone has told you. People often use this expression to indicate that in fact they are not surprised.

`Apparently, people who had given to party funds were more likely to receive honours than those who hadn't.' - `You don't say.'

15) PHRASE: amount PHR If you say there is a lot to be said for something, you mean you think it has a lot of good qualities or aspects.

There's a lot to be said for being based in the country.

16) PHRASE If you say that someone doesn't have much to say for himself or herself, you mean that they are not speaking very much during a conversation. [INFORMAL]

He's never got much to say for himself.

17) PHRASE If someone asks what you have to say for yourself, they are asking what excuse you have for what you have done.

`Well,' she said eventually, `what have you to say for yourself?'

18) PHRASE: oft it PHR that If something goes without saying, it is obvious.

It goes without saying that if someone has lung problems they should not smoke.

19) PHRASE: V inflects When one of the people or groups involved in a discussion has their say, they give their opinion.

The Football Association have had their say and so have the Football League.

20) PHRASE: PHR cl You use `Say what you like about someone or something' when you are about to mention one good thing about a person or thing that many people do not like.

Say what you like about them, but they did love their Mum.

21) CONVENTION (formulae) You use `I wouldn't say no' to indicate that you would like something, especially something that has just been offered to you. [INFORMAL]

I wouldn't say no to a drink.

22) PHRASE: usu PHR adj You can use not to say when adding a stronger or more extreme description than the one you have just used.

To those who've never received million dollar royalty cheques, this sounded a little odd, not to say offensive.

23) PHRASE: PHR n You use to say nothing of when you mention an additional thing which gives even more strength to the point you are making.

Unemployment leads to a sense of uselessness, to say nothing of financial problems.

24) PHRASE: PHR with cl/group You use shall I say and shall we say in order to warn someone that what you are about to say may cause offence or be surprising.

...whereas when you get older you're rather set in your ways, shall I say...

My involvement has not been altogether, shall we say, ethical.

25) PHRASE: PHR with cl/group You use that is to say or that's to say to indicate that you are about to express the same idea more clearly or precisely. [FORMAL]

We're basically talking about an independent state in the territories that were occupied in 1967, that is to say, in the West Bank and Gaza.

that is
26) CONVENTION (emphasis) You can use `You can say that again' to express strong agreement with what someone has just said. [INFORMAL]

`Must have been a fiddly job.' - `You can say that again.'

27) to say the leastsee least
needless to saysee needless

English dictionary. 2008.


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