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Boy: Germs, oh, what're germs?

Doctor: The things that cause infection.

Boy: Infection is caused by germs? Oh, are germs poisonous?

Doctor: Very.

Boy: I don't see any poisonous germs.

Doctor: Oh, much too small to be seen, but they're everywhere.

Boy: Oh, they are? Well you, you can't be too careful.

Prevention is better than cure. I'll say.


What does "I'll say" mean in this sentence?

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  • 3
    It's just intended to give extra emphasis to the previous statement. "I'd say" would be more idiomatic. – Kate Bunting Feb 3 at 13:31
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    @KateBunting agreed. The only instances of "I'll say" that I can find are when people are talking about future conversations. "When I next see him, I'll say...." – JavaLatte Feb 3 at 14:03
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    You can use "I'll say", but you'd usually see it with an exclamation mark. "Phew, that was a close shave", said the Captain, "I'll say!" agreed his companion. In the above example it would make more sense if the doctor was heartily agreeing with the boy's statement. If it's the boy, then I'd agree with @KateBunting that "I'd say" makes more sense (although I'd say (!) it should have a comma before it, not a full stop). – BeginTheBeguine Feb 3 at 14:33
  • It's the boy. Boy: .....better than cure. I'll say. – rezaellstack Feb 3 at 15:00
  • I'm guessing this is from the same 80's Canadian ESL program that you seem to enjoy. I have previously commented on the unnatural content of the English in this program. Could you confirm this and perhaps provide the link to this episode. – James K Feb 4 at 21:37
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I don't know where OP got his example text from, but it's probably mistranscribed. I would expect the conversation to have ended like this...

...
Doctor: Oh, much too small to be seen, but they're everywhere.
Boy: Oh, they are? Well you, you can't be too careful. Prevention is better than cure.
Doctor: I'll say!

The point being that exclamatory I'll say! (and the alternative form You can say that again!, which means exactly the same) both convey emphatic agreement [with whatever someone just said]. The doctor is enthusiastically agreeing that "prevention is better than cure".

Because these are "idioms", it's not necessarily useful to try and analyse / deconstruct the usage any further. But it might help to think of You can say that again! as meaning That is so true it's worth repeating! And it might also help to think of I'll say! as reflecting exactly the same sentiment with the additional implication I'll say it again for you! - or perhaps that it's so true I [and everyone else] should be saying it as well as you!

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