Is there a word that refers to the phrase that follows a dialog? By that, I mean phrases such as "said Matthew", "exclaimed John", etc. Is there a word that refers to those phrases we use in novels?

For example:

"That was sweet!" said John.

3 Answers 3


It's called a dialogue tag.

From the link:

Also often referred to as an attribution, a dialogue tag is a small phrase either before, after, or in between the actual dialogue itself. For example:

“Did you get my letter?” asked Katie.

The phrase “asked Katie” is the dialogue tag in the sentence.

Note: other interesting comments and information may be found in the link.


What you are looking for may be "speech tag."


It's normally called either a dialogue tag or a speech tag.

From "Dialogue tags and how to use them in fiction writing" by Louise Harnby:

Dialogue tags – or speech tags – are what writers use to indicate which character is speaking. Their function is, for the most part, mechanical. This article is about how to use them effectively.

A dialogue tag can come before, between or after direct speech:

​       Dave said, ‘That’s the last thing I expected you to say.’
      ‘That,’ said Dave, ‘is the last thing I expected you to say.’
      ‘That’s the last thing I expected you to say,’ Dave said.​

Placed in between direct speech, tags can moderate the pace by forcing the reader to pause, and improve the rhythm by breaking up longer chunks.

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