"What did you just say?" She gasped. - Gasp first or speak first?

< Previous | Next >

Zhi

Senior Member
Chinese
"What did you just say?" She gasped.
In this scenario, I suppose what happened was she gasped before speaking, which is the only way it could make sense.

However, the problem is I read from left to right. By the time I saw "gasped", I already imagined her saying the sentence without gasping. It's annoying to go back and re-imagine again.

To make things worse, there're plenty of even longer examples:
"You're kidding! What did you just say? No way!" She gasped.

So, my question is, did she supposedly gasp first and then speak the sentence?
Thanks!
 
  • Zhi

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks, Miss Julie and JulianStuart, but according to dictionaries, "gasp" means "to take a quick deep breath with your mouth open, especially because you are surprised or in pain".
    I'm confused.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thanks, Miss Julie and JulianStuart, but according to dictionaries, "gasp" means "to take a quick deep breath with your mouth open, especially because you are surprised or in pain".
    I'm confused.
    You can describe how someone speaks in the same way. In the WRF dictionary gasp - WordReference.com Dictionary of English (you did search first, right?:))

    1. to say or utter while struggling for breath[~ + out + object]She was able to gasp out the name of his attacker.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, that's the literal meaning of "gasp" but when the word is used to describe how a person spoke, it usually means the person spoke in a surprised or breathless tone.

    Cross-posted.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    This is a common construction.

    "Oh no," she moaned.
    "I doubt it," he laughed.

    You can't actually form words while you are moaning or laughing - or gasping - but this kind of construction indicates that you are speaking in a way that conveys shock (gasp), distress (moan), or humor (laugh) while you are speaking.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Zhi, you are asking for an exact literal timing of events which does not exist.

    Normally we say someone "gasps" (not "gasps" some words). Then "gasp" means a sharp intake of breath, but it also means they expressed certain emotions (shock, amazement) at the same time.

    If we say she "gasped" certain words, it means she spoke them while expressing those same emotions, whether or not there was also an intake of breath at some time. She could gasp (intake breath) before speaking, after speaking, in between words, or not at all.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top