Only three letters but ‘say’ is an important word, particularly in conversation. Firstly and most obviously it is used in reported speech - She said they would be coming at about 8 o’clock. What do you say? There are two uses here. It can be when you ask someone for their opinion. It is also a common way of reminding a child to say thank you for a present they have just received. I would like to say a few words - this is your introduction when you are about to make a speech on a formal occasion - possibly a colleague is about to leave work after a long time and you want to show your appreciation before giving them a leaving present. It’s hard to say really - you have been asked for your opinion and you can’t make up your mind. Somebody gives you a piece of advice telling you to do something really dramatic and again you are not really willing to do that - It’s easy to say but another thing to do it. The judge in a court of law is about to tell you what sort of sentence you are going to receive but before doing so, asks you - Have you anything to say in your defence?
On a lighter note - I say! - You are expressing surprise, appreciation and pleasure - I say! you are looking very beautiful tonight. If you say so - here you are accepting somebody’s opinion. An extension of this is when you explain that you are doing something because you have been given permission - I am not doing this for me but on John’s say-so. If someone asks you to keep a secret, you then reply - I won’t say a word. Sometimes you are not too sure about what someone has told you. You want to agree but at the back of your mind you have your doubts. With that feeling of uncertainty you eventually agree and this is your comment - If you say so.
Some years ago a manufacturer that makes wood stains created a slogan to advertise their product by assuring you that it was very effective - It does what it says on the tin. This became so popular that we use it about anything that works well and can be relied upon. I have even heard politicians using it when they talk about a new policy that they have introduced. Sometimes you do someone a favour and they are very pleased with what you have done. The trouble is they keep on thanking you. To bring the conversation to an end and stop further thanking, your comment is - Say no more. Enthusiasm is a great characteristic and there are times when you want to hear it from someone else. You want them to approve what you have decided to do. You ask them - Do you think I have made the right decision? The enthusiastic reply you want to hear is - I’ll say!
Two more quick comments - Say cheese! - this is what you ask people to say when you are about to take their photograph. Say the word! - you are telling someone that you are ready to help and you simply ask them to let you know you when they want you to start. I could go on and on but I think I have given you enough food for thought. In other words - I’ve said more than enough.