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550 Alternative Words for "Said"

Updated on June 3, 2016
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Since 1994, short stories by AJ Barnett have appeared in magazines, summer specials, international competitions, and available on Kindle.

Source

He Said, She Said...

Is it your dream, your fantasy to write a bestseller? Do you have a book in your head, but 'said' gets in the way? Books are what drive most authors forward, words are what drive them mad. We might write short story collections, fan fiction, science fiction, lengthy novels, or romance, but if we write, then somewhere along the line we'll come up against the word 'said.' Does using it fill you with despair?

Repeating "he said, she said," can get annoying, but is it smart to use a different verb? There are abundant words to use instead, yet purists believe you're probably best not using them since readers pay such little attention to 'said’ it effectively becomes invisible. If you use an alternative, it can become conspicuous; it can make a declaration that shouts, "Hey guys, look at me, I’m important!" And even worse, it can downgrade your writing as a whole and make it sound amateurish. If you look at published books, you'll find most authors steer clear of the alternatives.

A good practice to follow is that when it’s understandable who is speaking the line of dialogue, you can remove the verb completely. It's surprising how much more professional your work will look if you do. In fact, let's make a rule: if it's obvious who's speaking, don't use anything.

On the other hand, sometimes you need to indicate who's speaking, and sometimes, the word 'said' can get a little old. In those cases, the following list of alternatives can help.

Alternative Words for "Said"

You should certainly only substitute 'said' if the line of dialogue needs accentuation or verbalization to convey the way it is said, but please remember that gorging your story with alternatives makes your work look amateurish. Use alternatives moderately!

For all that, if you’re struggling to find that elusive perfect substitute, here’s a list of words (in alphabetic order) that might work.

  • Accepted, Accused, Acknowledged, Addressed, Admitted, Advertised, Advised, Affirmed, Agonized, Agreed, Alleged, Announced, Answered, Appealed, Arranged, Articulated, Asked, Asserted, Asseverated, Assumed, Assured, Attracted, Avered, Avowed
  • Babbled, Barked, Bawled, Beamed, Beckoned, Began, Begged, Bellowed, Beseeched, Blubbered, Blurted, Bossed, Bragged, Breathed, Broadcasted, Burst
  • Cajoled, Called, Carped, Cautioned, Censured, Cheered, Chimed in, Choked, Chortled, Chuckled, Circulated, Claimed, Comforted, Commented, Conceded, Concluded, Concurred, Condemned, Conferred, Confessed, Confided, Confirmed, Consoled, Contended, Continued, Cried out, Criticized, Croaked, Crooned, Crowed
  • Declared, Decided, Defended, Demanded, Denoted, Dictated, Disclosed, Disposed, Disseminated, Distributed, Divulged, Doubted, Drawled
  • Echoed, Emitted, Empathized, Encouraged, Ended, Entreated, Exacted, Exclaimed, Explained, Exposed
  • Faltered, Finished, Fretted, Fumed
  • Gawped, Giggled, Glowered, Grieved, Grinned, Groaned, Growled, Grumbled, Grunted, Guessed
  • Held, Hesitated, Hinted, Hissed, Hollered, Howled, Hypothesized
  • Imparted, Imitated, Implied, Implored, Importuned, Inclined, Indicated, Informed, Inquired, Insisted, Interjected, Invited
  • Jabbered, Joked, Justified
  • Keened
  • Lamented, Laughed, Leered, Lied, Lilted
  • Maintained, Made known, Made public, Marked, Mewled, Mimicked, Moaned, Mocked, Mourned, Mumbled, Murmured, Mused
  • Necessitated, Noted
  • Observed, Offered, Ordered
  • Panted, Passed on, Pleaded, Pointed out, Pondered, Postulated, Praised, Preached, Premised, Presented, Presupposed, Probed, Proclaimed, Prodded, Professed, Proffered, Promised, Promulgated, Proposed, Protested, Provoked, Publicized, Published, Puled, Put forth, Put out
  • Quaked, Queried, Questioned, Quipped, Quavered, Quizzed, Quoted
  • Reassured, Raged, Ranted, Reckoned that, Rejoiced, Rejoined, Released, Remarked, Remonstrated, Repeated, Replied, Reported, Reprimanded, Requested, Required, Requisitioned, Retorted, Revealed, Roared
  • Said, Sang, Scoffed, Scolded, Screamed, Seethed, Sent on, Settled, Shared, Shouted, Shrieked, Shrugged, Shuddered, Snapped, Snarled, Sniffled, Sniveled, Snorted, Sobbed, Solicited, Sought, Specified, Speculated, Spluttered, Spread, Squeaked, Stammered, Stated, Stuttered, Stressed, Suggested, Supposed, Swore
  • Taunted, Teased, Testified, Thundered, Ticked off, Told, Told off, Touted, Trailed off, Transferred, Transmitted, Trembled, Trilled, Trumpeted
  • Understood, Undertook, Upbraided, Urged, Uttered
  • Verified, Vociferated, Voiced, Volunteered, Vouched for
  • Wailed, Wanted, Warned, Wept, Went on, Wheedled, Whimpered, Whined, Whispered, Wondered
  • Yawped, Yelled, Yelped, Yowled

Adverb, Action, or Details to Explain How Something Was Said

Okay, so despite the warning, you’ve decided you really do need to use another word for 'said.' You’ve found one you like and are determined to insert it in your text. In order to make your writing absolutely zing, you might want to go whole hog and add other words, gestures, details, or an adverb to convey or emphasize exactly how it was said.

The way it works is you choose whichever word for 'said' you fancy from the list above, then add a word or phrase after it from the list below. For example, "She promised, with a controlled smile," or "He remarked, with a gloomy sigh." But do not overdo it. Be very careful not to end up sounding amateurish.

Adverbs or Phrases to Use to Emphasize How Something Is Said

  • Abruptly, Absently, Acidly, After a moment's reflection, Angrily, Apologetically, Approvingly, Artfully
  • Broke in, Bemusedly

  • Calmly, Caustically, Cheerfully, Complacently, Thoughtfully, Crossly

  • Depressingly, Dryly

  • Earnestly, Enthusiastically

  • False cheerfulness, Friendly fashion

  • Gently, Gruffly

  • Happily, Hotly

  • Impatiently, In a casual tone, In a chiding tone, In a courteous manner, In a curious tone, In a dry tone, In a flirtatious way, In a level tone, In a level way, In a perpetually tired voice, In a rasping tone, In a small panicky voice, In a soothing tone, In quiet amazement, Indulgently, Informed sassily, Innocently, Inquired doubtfully, Irritably

  • Loftily, Loudly

  • Made the effort to sound reassuring, Meaning the words more seriously than they sounded, Mentally shrugged

  • Naturally, Nodded agreeably, Not wanting to sound pushy, Noncommittally

  • Offhandedly, Optimistically

  • Pleasantly, Politely, Politely smooth, Promised in a motherly/fatherly way, Prompted gently Promptly, Protested

  • Quietly

  • Reflectively, Roughly

  • Sadly, Sympathetically, Sarcastically, She went on, Sincerely, Smiled faintly, Smugly, Soberly, Softly, Sounded slightly brittle, Sparingly, Sternly,

  • Tartly, Tautly, Teased softly, Tightly, Truthfully

  • Uncertainly, Unexpectedly, Urgently

  • Vaguely, Voice soft with affection

  • Went on loyally, Wilfully misunderstood, With a controlled smile, With a fond look, With a gloomy sigh, With a note of relief, With a sad grimace, With a sad smile, With a sense of guilt, With a sigh of irritation, With burgeoning excitement, With conviction, With determination, With fire, With firm persistence, With gentle remonstrance, With graceful simplicity, With mock astonishment, With pleasure, With quiet empathy, With simple directness, Without sounding unduly curious, Wryly
  • Xenophobically
  • Yearningly
  • Zealously

What Stephen King Has to Say About Adverbs for Dialogue Attribution:

The adverb is not your friend. [...]

Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.

I can be a good sport about adverbs, though. Yes I can. With one exception: dialogue attribution. I insist that you use the adverb in dialogue attribution only in the rarest and most special of occasions . . . and not even then, if you can avoid it. Just to make sure we all know what we’re talking about, examine these three sentences:

‘Put it down!’ she shouted.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said.

In these sentences, shouted, pleaded, and said are verbs of dialogue attribution. Now look at these dubious revisions:

‘Put it down! she shouted menacingly.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded abjectly, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said contemptuously.

The three latter sentences are all weaker than the three former ones, and most readers will see why immediately.

—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft

What do you think?

How do you feel about using alternative words for 'said' and descriptive phrases and adverbs?

See results

If You Feel You Must Use Alternatives, Use Them Judiciously

Be sensible: Sprinkle other words in occasionally, and your work might sparkle—Pour with gay abandon, and your work will sink.

I hope this has been of some help. The lists are by no means comprehensive, and I’m sure everyone will want to add a few favourites – if you think of some, put them in the comments box below, and if they're sensible I might add them to the list.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Jennerbob 12 days ago

      Best website ever helped me with ridiculously hard homework write 50 words for Exclamed

    • profile image

      Hey, 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for giving me some ideas on words to use for my 5th grade project!

    • profile image

      Cheryl A. 8 weeks ago

      This was seriously a great article, it's helpful. Couldn't have been put any better. God bless!

    • profile image

      wolfangelsword 2 months ago

      thank you. It helped me on my book I was working on.

    • profile image

      Asgher Khan 3 months ago

      Good effort and guidance for learners.

      God bless U

    • profile image

      juan (huan) 5 months ago

      "great article," he acknowledged

    • profile image

      The Anon 5 months ago

      This article has really helped me with my writing, I never was a good writer and only recently I started to really get into writing my own story, so this has really helped me refine my work.

    • profile image

      Thomas 6 months ago

      Thanks for the help glad I came across this Web site

    • profile image

      workingonproject2464 6 months ago

      thank you for these alternative words to use instead of 'said'. i was working on a project in class and my teacher told me never to use the word said. i really needed this. i may disagree about never using said but i still used these. thank you again!

    • profile image

      Robbie 7 months ago

      this really helped me write my own story project thank you so much i use this site everyday thank you

    • profile image

      Sarah 8 months ago

      This is really helpful!!!

    • profile image

      Hailey 9 months ago

      Thanks for the help—this is great for college essays!

    • profile image

      destiny jenks 12 months ago

      wow that is alot of words

    • profile image

      ash 12 months ago

      cool web site

    • profile image

      Counter Attack ;) 13 months ago

      You do not in fact have 550 alternative words BUT 679!

      THIS MESSAGE WAS FROM YOU'RE LOCAL Counter Attack.

      ^^^^^

      Count, get it? Get it?

    • profile image

      piano 13 months ago

      thanks this was so helpful

      another one to add: chanted

    • profile image

      Evan Bell 16 months ago

      Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on weaving action into dialogue, such as following said with 'pushing himself away from the table and walking to the window." I understand that such followups are technically covered in the adverbs, action, and details segment (as the title suggests), but, as a writer whose work is often rather dialogue-centric, I often fear that without these bits of action the conversations would begin to seem somewhat stagnant. Often the accompanying statement comes to encapsulate more than one action, unlike my earlier example, and becomes rather substantial, in a manner that I must say looks to me to be satisfactory. After reading this article, however, I've begun to wonder if the quality of my writing is suffering from it.

    • profile image

      hi 16 months ago

      great

    • profile image

      TimegirlRose 2 years ago

      Thank you for creating this website. It's been a big help, as my family can't help me edit my fanfic.

      I've also got a word to add; snorted.

    • profile image

      EH 2 years ago

      I found another list that may be useful http://ayrbray.com/2014/09/words-to-use-instead-of...

    • profile image

      Lynne 2 years ago

      Thanks a lot for your advice. I am writing a fantasy story and wondered if I was over using the word said. I feel a lot more confident after reading other comments.

    • profile image

      Anna-Grace 2 years ago

      That helped me a lot. Thank you

    • profile image

      tiffanyrose2015 2 years ago

      Awesome hub! :-)

    • profile image

      123454321 2 years ago

      how did i only just find this today?????? this helps so much!!! :)

    • Joseph Machney profile image

      Joseph Machney 2 years ago from Canada

      Thanks ajbarnett, this was just what I needed for helping me with writing my book. Perfect! Much appreciated!

    • profile image

      Lad. 2 years ago

      Thanks loads, this helped me a lot.

    • profile image

      Alalal333 2 years ago

      Wowser ajbarnett!!!! This is the best site for alternatives for said

    • profile image

      Geraldine 3 years ago

      Thank you for this awesome list, I'm doing my own writing and I just kept running out alternative words for 'said', but your list really helped thanks :')

    • profile image

      Madison Ward 3 years ago

      hey there. thank you for this amazing and awesome list of words to use instead of 'said'. I'm needing help with other words then said in a story I'm writing for my Home Economics class and this list really helped. thank you again and keep up the good work :)

    • profile image

      Pharme589 3 years ago

      Very nice site!

    • profile image

      Johnd849 3 years ago

      I feel that is among the so much significant information for me. And i'm glad studying your article. However should observation on few general issues, The website taste is ideal, the articles is in point of fact excellent D. Just right activity, cheers kaefkdaededg

    • LadyTreana profile image

      Theresa M. Odom-Surgick 3 years ago from Albany, New York

      Great information! Now I have to go back and look at my 'said'. Thanks much!

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 3 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      So glad it helped. So many writers misunderstand what an invisible word 'said' is, and even more feel they have to explain who is speaking and how they say it, at every opportunity.

    • Brooke18 profile image

      Brooke 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Very helpful! My first roughly-completed novel avoided the use of said in every way. I kept hearing from other people who read my manuscript that they felt it could be better. I see now that my substitution for said was unbelievably overused. I am going to start thinking about whether to use 'said' or substitute with the utmost care. Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      me 3 years ago

      interrupted is another word

    • profile image

      darkocean 3 years ago

      Thank you for this it is actually annoying to me to put in he/she said kind of stuff, unless its really needed of course. I just thought that you had to haha, well live and learn.

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 3 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      I think you've missed the point, Titan. The idea of the article is to explain that OTHER words for said should RARELY be used. Said, is a little word that disappears to most readers - unless of course they are also writers searching text for alternatives...

    • profile image

      Titan 3 years ago

      OK but they should have added more

    • profile image

      somebody 3 years ago

      Thanks for the help, I write Online Fan Factions, and I'm afraid that my story is getting boring because I was limited on the words like 'said' 'yelled' 'retorted' and things like so. Nice Job!

    • profile image

      Jonathan 3 years ago

      Nicely done.

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      Chou 3 years ago

      Squeal is also a good word instead of said. It does't seem to be one your list. like "Ann squealed with excitement when she saw her favourite band performing in the park"

      There's also screamed.

      Hope that helps! :-)

    • profile image

      ronald 3 years ago

      thanks this helps so much with bringing emotion to my story

    • profile image

      America 3 years ago

      Thank you this helps me continue writing my novel...sadly all I could think of as words instead of said was

      smirked

      mumbled

      says

      questioned

      asked

      Mostly simple words that are used every day

    • profile image

      Dark Bubbles 3 years ago

      wow awsome really helpful great article

    • profile image

      (= wild child 3 years ago

      it helped me on my poum for that i am thankfull

    • profile image

      Aman2272 3 years ago

      helped me lots on my book/ english paper so thanks !

    • profile image

      bib 3 years ago

      i was offended by the picture

    • profile image

      monkey 3 years ago

      this helped me a lot on a paper!

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 3 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Thanks, Monkey. I've added it now.

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      monkey 3 years ago

      panted would be a good word

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 3 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Thanks, Richard. That's exactly what I try to say in the article.

    • profile image

      Richard Schiver 3 years ago

      Can't remember where but I've read in the past that readers have become conditioned to read said without a thought. If the characters emotions are properly conveyed by the writer there is no need to point out the inflection of their dialogue, the reader will know they are angry, sad, happy, scared without being reminded.

    • profile image

      Et 3 years ago

      Thanks

      It was useful for my homework !

    • profile image

      Sally D 4 years ago

      Look what you've done! My daughter is crying because this is so wonderful. :-)))

      I am a writer and a lover of these. Lovely thoughts. Please give me a call: 301 271 7992

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 4 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Thanks, Slugface11. I've added your suggestion.

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      slugface11 4 years ago

      Wow! That is a lot of words. Reassured isn't on the list by the way. You could add that.

    • profile image

      Sparklingbluefire 4 years ago

      thank you so much! I am 10 years old and I have written 70 pages on my book. I used said a lot before but now I have altered that and now there's only a few parts which say that.

      Thank you x 100,000,000

    • profile image

      Nobody 4 years ago

      Thank you so much! This helped tremendously with my english short story project! Thank you x 1,000,000

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 4 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      I'm sorry Is123, but it's already there, you must have missed seeing it

    • profile image

      ls123 4 years ago

      you could add warned to your list

    • profile image

      Jon 4 years ago

      quoted might be a good word for said

    • profile image

      Stellar Phoenix Review 4 years ago

      This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost..haha) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix Review

    • profile image

      Suna 4 years ago

      Wow, this is so impressive and helpful. It's brought a lot of color to my writing, what a wonderful article.

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 4 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Hi, Human. If you check, you'll see 'Keened' is an alternative word for said

    • profile image

      Human 4 years ago

      Why is there no 'k' word that can replace said

    • ajbarnett profile image
      Author

      ajbarnett 4 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Sounds okay to me - thanks, Maddy.

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      Maddy 4 years ago

      What about "Trailed off" as a replacement?

    • profile image

      Corn Pie 4 years ago

      "Said" is not an alternative word for said!

    • profile image

      boberto 5 years ago

      helped with my language arts homework

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      A PERSON 5 years ago

      Thank you, I enjoyed reading the page and it helped me. I am just writing a book for entertainment and this helped. I do recommend organizing the words by meaning, not my the letter they start with. You posted "scream" next to "smiled" basically, so inconvenient.

    • profile image

      JC 13 5 years ago

      thanks so much!!! Writing dialogue for a novel that I am trying to start and this is such an amazing help!!

    • profile image

      Starky99 5 years ago

      This page has really helped me with homework I hadn't a clue what to do and know I have lots of ideas. This website is now on my favourites on my laptop.

      Thanks!!

    • profile image

      Vanita 5 years ago

      WOW... It's incredible. I just can't stop looking at it. Congrats.

    • profile image

      Purple midnite 5 years ago

      I like to use yammer or yammered in my writings it means to talk loudly and continually

    • profile image

      Lucy 5 years ago

      I agree with Hailey. I am a published author who hates to use said all the time so I would like to try new words so if you could put the meanings I will put the name of your websites on my about the author page. I will also be in touch. Joe vous remedies!!

    • profile image

      Hailey 5 years ago

      Lots of words but you should put the meanings next to them. If you do this then people wouldn't hav to look them all up in a dictionary when they find a word they like. Put the meanings and we'll talk about putting this page in my new book. I'll be in touch.

    • profile image

      Emily 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for this! As a writer who is still developing her voice and style, I find it hard to add "flavor" to my writing. This will help a lot!

    • profile image

      Kayla 5 years ago

      I don't really understand this article. I would think you'd want to encourage writers to use better words. Wouldn't your paper/story become ,kind of,like, a broken record? Shouldn't writer use better words than said, said, said? Of course I'm probably wrong I am only thirteen. I was just looking for another word to substitute said. This article was very good and helpful to the story I'm writing on. Thank you ajbarnett for the words I just think we shouldn't write said all the time. Thank you again and good bye. :p

    • profile image

      Moira 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article! I'm a fanfiction writer and this has helped me so much, thank you.

    • profile image

      niamhy 5 years ago

      said is soooo boring its always said said said cant people get a bit interesting like sighed or moaned.

      this website helped me soooooooooooooooo much for my homework which is for my story.

    • profile image

      Brheanna 5 years ago

      What am I to do. I absolutely 100% hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE the word 'said'. It bugs me. I hate reading it. I hate writing it. It sounds robotic in my head. I hate the fact that people tell me I HAVE to use it. No, it's not invisible to me. It feels like it's highlighted with a neon orange background. I can't get over my dislike for that word.

    • profile image

      Abby 5 years ago

      that helped so much i am going to be looking at that every day. Thx XXXOOO

    • profile image

      raven 5 years ago

      thank you i had to write another chapter for a book and it helped a lot

    • profile image

      Nick 5 years ago

      I agree!!! Plus, what's the use of a fancy word if you just end up using that word over and over again, like said?

    • profile image

      Victoria Long 5 years ago

      Would I be forward if I told you I loved you? I have been looking for such a list forever! Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      lolppls 5 years ago

      verry cool dudes this realy helps even for little kids

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      pepole chick 5 years ago

      omg thanks so much u are so smart to think of so much other words from said.this has nouthing to do with the subject but i love taylour lautner

    • profile image

      bobby 5 years ago

      thx it was awsome

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      lewis 5 years ago

      Cheers that helped a lot

    • profile image

      SpyroMan 5 years ago

      Thanks for putting this out there! I write a lot of short stories and this really helps add something meaningful to what my characters are talking about. These definitely shake up the drab use of "said". Thanks a bundle!

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      jessica 5 years ago

      thank you so much this is going to help me so much writing my book

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      Jess 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for this. I had to write a one and a half page writing that all had to be conversation and I had said said heaps. this helped me so much so thank you. I love you for this

    • profile image

      Reo 5 years ago

      Wow! this is very helpful. thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Reo 5 years ago

      Thanks! This has helped me a lot!

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      farah 5 years ago

      thank you , but can you help me by saying the alternatives for sain in the letter Z,X

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      Chloe 5 years ago

      thanks i was writing something and i needed other words apart from said :)))

    • profile image

      kannisha12 5 years ago

      This helped me so much!!

    • profile image

      Mojo Mouse 5 years ago

      My last comment the word tis was ment to be this

    • profile image

      Mojo Mouse 5 years ago

      Tis helped me so much.

      it was so much more than I needed

    • profile image

      Katrina 5 years ago

      Thank you so much! This is more than what I'm looking for. :)