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Is this sentence correct?

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 Hi all
Is the following sentence correct.
If I said like that I must have been joking.
If the sentence is correct, here the sentence  is expressing an epistemic meaning ,Isnt it ? Thanks in advance

There is no governing body that says what is correct or incorrect. I find the sentence to be unacceptable and arguably ungrammatical. If you change "said" to "said it", "spoke" or "talked", then it's okay. If you make that change, it is probably an epistemic use of "must", but maybe there is some far-fetched context in which it is deontic.

Thank you very much - hope you wont mind one more question about the sentence. What do you think is the problem with the sentence? Is that the combination 'said like that'- Is said incompatible with like?.

I can't make "said like" fly. There should be object, so "He said" is mostly ungrammatical, although there are some elliptical constructions like "You say...", and some idioms like "I'll say!" (but not *"They'll say!"). Other verbs like "speak, talk" don't strongly require an object, so "talk/speak like that" is okay. Similarly, *"If I gave like that" is bad, and so is *I gave" (with provisions for elliptical constructions like "I already gave").

I do believe I have heard it before that “to say” is transitive verb from the point of view of many native English speakers. But English dictionaries list it as intransitive too in the meaning of “to express oneself”, “to speak” or “to declare”. There are some discussions in the Internet about whether “to say” is transitive or not and almost all of them conclude that it is transitive. Though the Corpus of Contemporary American English ( lists a lot of intransitive usages.
So I wonder if there is a resource where one could check the modern tendencies of the words usage as above?
Thanks in advance.


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