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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #1

    I says

    More and more I keep noticing people say "I says" in a sentence when describing an event.
    Is it proper english to say, for example, "So I says to him, why don't you go get in the truck and drive away?"

    I'm really confused as I was always taught to use said in those instances, as it is past tense. It doesn't sound right to my ear, but maybe it is some weird exception to the English language.

    Please let me know. Thank you.

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      • England
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    • Join Date: Feb 2005
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    #2

    Re: I says

    Hello Deanna, welcome to Using English!

    "I says" (or "says I", "sez I", etc.) is not a recent development: you can find it in dialogue in 19th century fiction, for instance, and the OED records it from 1682. It's also common in other persons, e.g. the colloquial jeer "Says you!", expressing scepticism.

    As you say ("as you says"?), its form is non-standard ("I says", not "I say"); presumably the use of an irregular present tense form makes a narrative more vivid and piquant.

    All the best,

    MrP


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 1,335
    #3

    Re: I says

    Hi,
    Yes, in Russian we also use this tense to recount films or incidents:
    - He sneaks into the room and sees a ghost...
    - Yesterday my daughter comes from the kindergarten and says....

  2. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #4

    Re: I says

    Thank you so much for your responses. So, technically speaking, no pun intended, you can use "I says" even though it's considered "non-standard"? Tell me this...would you use it?

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    #5

    Re: I says

    Quote Originally Posted by deanna View Post
    Tell me this...would you use it?
    I wouldn't use it myself, no.

    In British English, there are some people who can say "I says" (or "says I") convincingly, and some people who can't. I belong to the second group, I'm afraid.

    Have a good Friday!

    MrP

  3. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: I says

    I'm a native AmE speaker, and I would sound funny or out of place using "I says." It's more of a phrase used by gangster-type tough guys in movies, or maybe people who were born and raised in Brooklyn.

    Usually the person who uses "says" also uses "deeze" and "dem" instead of "these" and "them."

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    #7

    Re: I says

    Yes; in BrE, it's associated with non-standard forms of English, such as rural dialects and Cockney. It's also popular in literary English, where non-standard dialects are imitated (e.g. in the stories of W.W. Jacobs).

    MrP

  4. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #8

    Re: I says

    LOL...thank you Mr.P...you answered my question..thanks to all other who posted replies....I feel better now....:)

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