Robert Leko
it says vs. it reads Hello! I have browsed through the internet in a bid to find an explanation for the usage and meaning of the two when referring to a sentence or citation however, they are pretty contradictory. One "says" that the first one is the meaning of the sentence and the latter is the exact citation. Whereas others say, on the contrary, "it reads" is the meaning and "it says" applies to the exact citation. Is there an exact rule for the usage of the two? Thanks!
Nov 9, 2017 10:37 AM
Answers · 3
Hi Robert. I don't believe there is a rule for it. However, if i were to read aloud from a statement or perhaps from a book i would say "it reads as follows..." If I just want to tell you the meaning I would say "it says..." but wouldn't necessarily be quoting exactly. People most often say 'it reads' after giving some sort of explanation or discussion of it. for example, in a court, you may talk about a letter that someone wrote as it is evidence. You then say 'the letter reads...' But basically, 'it reads...' is a direct quote. and 'it says' is just the meaning.
November 9, 2017
Hello Robert, says or reads ? What memories this question brings up. Sometimes when I was a kid, teachers would not like for us to say The book says . . . The teachers would tell us that books can't say anything. Then we were supposed to use reads, which doesn't make sense either, really. When I teach research writing, I tell my students when they are quoting or paraphrasing from a text to give credit to the author and use words like; according to, states, explains. (I think you understand) however, "reads" would never be used in this context. And "says" is also not good, but because it feels less formal. Reads is just wrong and not accepted. However, as David explains in his reply that if he were reading the text aloud to a group, using "it reads as follows" is the way we would say it. We say reads to tell the listeners we are reading and not paraphrasing.
November 11, 2018
Still haven’t found your answers?
Write down your questions and let the native speakers help you!
Robert Leko
Language Skills
English, Hungarian, Serbian
Learning Language