by Liz Walter
I was writing some learning materials on the topic of communication the other day, when I noticed how many common phrases include the word ‘say’. This post looks at some of the most useful of them.
Firstly, if you have a lot to say for yourself, you talk a lot. This is usually a rather disapproving phrase. Conversely, we say that a very quiet person doesn’t have much to say for himself/herself:
Wow, Stephanie had a lot to say for herself, didn’t she?
I asked Freddie to explain what had happened, but he didn’t have much to say for himself.
If there’s a lot to be said for something, it has a lot of good points or advantages. This phrase can be adapted in many ways to talk about degrees of advantage or disadvantage. For instance, there’s something to be said for something is less emphatic but still positive, while there’s little/not much to be said for something means that it has very few (or even no) good points:
There’s a lot to be said for living alone.
I love the city, but there’s something to be said for the peace of the countryside.
It’s a lovely country, though there’s not much to be said for the cuisine.
I must say, I’m overwhelmed by all their kindness.
The experience was disappointing, to say the least.
‘Harry’s in bad mood today.’ ‘You can say that again!’
Needless to say, Mick forgot Mum’s birthday.
It goes without saying that you can call me any time you want.
Conversely, we say that’s not saying much to show that something is not impressive or surprising:
The book’s better than the movie, but that’s not saying much.
We often use the phrase I have to say with something we find slightly surprising or something that we think the person we are talking to may not like:
I have to say, I was never very fond of Joe.
I’ll finish with the phrase when all is said and done. We use it to sum up a discussion, often in a way that implies that a situation isn’t as bad or as serious as it may seem:
He can be rude, but when all’s said and done, nobody’s perfect, are they?
Do add any other useful ‘say’ phrases you can think of!