I didn't know we can apply inversion in front of direct speech.
I thought we can do it only after it. (e.g.: 'Hi,' Tom said. → 'Hi,' said Tom.)
But here's the text:


The next year’s national election is largely seen as a contest for “the idea of India” as a country, which has steadily fallen in indices of democratic freedom under Modi’s Hindu-nationalist regime. Modi’s party rode to power in 2014 by weaponizing social media platforms. The 2024 elections are likely to be a continuation of that, with widespread misinformation and hate speech that may threaten the integrity of the democratic process. The influencer space is a new battleground—one which needs careful oversight.
But, says Pal, the associate professor, the people most able to deal with the problem are the ones who profit the most from it. “It is also not in the interest of the ruling government [to address the concerns], because they are better mobilized in this ecosystem,” he says. “It is a very dangerous situation, and we are unfortunately destined to see a lot of this happening in upcoming elections.”

so, the sentence:
(1) But, says Pal, the associate professor, the people most able to deal with the problem are the ones who profit the most from it.

my variant for comparing:
(2) But, Pal says, the associate professor, the people most able to deal with the problem are the ones who profit the most from it.

Do (1) and (2) mean the same?
If not, then what's the difference between them?

my subsidiary examples:
(3) Tom said, "Hi."
(4) Said Tom, "Hi."

I know (3) is correct.
But by analogy with (1), (4) is correct too, right?
If not, then why not?

  • 3
    I think the question hinges on whether Pal said "but" or whether the narrator said "but". If Pal says "but", (1) is correct. If the narrator says "but", (2) is nearly correct — there shouldn't be a comma after "but", and it should read "But Pal, the associate professor, says ..." Dec 8, 2023 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


(4) is a valid construction, but it rings very archaic. Unnatural sentence ordering is occasionally used where clarity would otherwise seriously suffer—it would be justifiable in the article's sentence due to its length—but leave that to the professionals.

As Peter Shor points out in a comment, the preceding "but" is likely part of the quotation, which means it actually follows standard practice: "says _____" can be placed at any natural break in the quotation (or at the end, but generally not the beginning, as you observe).

Edit: I managed to miss that "the associate professor" is a relative clause modifying "Pal". This means "Pal, the associate professor" can't be broken up by other words, and the quotation isn't really that unwieldy. My analysis is largely unchanged though.


The sentence is a little confusing because the quote marks have been left out.

Normal wording: Paul says, "Hello. I'm here."

Or: "Hello. I'm here," Paul says.

Or: "Hello. I'm here," says Paul.

That is, putting the "says" first is ONLY acceptable when the quote comes before the "says", not when it comes after. Because in English the conventional word order is subject-verb-object. NOT verb-subject-object. (As in any discussion of word order: Sometimes a fluent speaker will break the normal word order for emphasis. Or in poetry or song lyrics, to get a desired rhyme or rhythm. But break the regular word order in normal speech and it just sounds ... weird. Normal: "You are happy." Weird-sounding: "Happy you are.")

It's also acceptable to split the quote and put the "says" in the middle. Mostly this just adds some variety to your sentence structure.

"Hello," says Paul. "I'm here."

In this case, "But" is part of the quote.

"But", says Pal, "the people most able ..."

That is, the quote starts before the "says". If "But" was not in the quote, it would NOT be acceptable. That is, you CANNOT say, "Says Pal, 'The people most able ...'"

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