In colloquial English, it is not uncommon to hear such sentences as these:

It says here in the instructions that you should do this first.

It says on Amazon that the package will be here in two days' time.


To me, these sentences do not appear grammatical: surely it should be "it is said" in both of these sentences, since "it" is not actually speaking, but rather contains speech written by someone else (in the first sentence, by the manufacturer; in the second, by the programmer).

Are these constructions grammatical? If not, then why are they so common in spoken English, at least insofar as they are heard more than the passive alternative?

  • 1
    I think you're being too strict with the definition of "to say." "To say" (along with other speech-related verbs like "to tell") is often used to mean that an inanimate object is conveying information. If you look up "to say" in dictionaries, you'll usually see the alternative meaning listed as one of the definitions.
    – Unlocked
    Mar 29, 2022 at 18:58
  • Side note-- "it is said" is usually used when there's some folk tale or classic moral or superstition or something like that. "It is said that black cats foretell danger" is fine. "It is said that my Amazon package will arrive in two days" sounds like you're telling a joke.
    – Unlocked
    Mar 29, 2022 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


The examples you have given are perfectly normal standard English.

One of the dictionary definitions of the verb 'say' is 'to give information in writing, numbers, or signs'.

to give information in writing, numbers, or signs:
My watch says three o'clock.
Can you read what that sign says?
[ + (that) ] It says in the paper (that) they've found the man who did it.
[ + to infinitive ] It says on the bottle to take three tablets a day.

Say (Cambridge Dictionary)

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