Say / Tell

Are you quoting or reporting?

A guide talking
 

 

Say vs. Tell

SAY  

Use say for quoted and indirect speech.  After say, the indirect object uses "to me/us/you" and usually follows the quoted speech.  

She said, "Hello" to us.

She said, "Hello, I am your guide".  (quoted speech)

She said to us, "Hello, I am your guide."

She said that she was our guide.  (indirect speech)

She said "Follow me."  (request / command)

TELL

Use tell for indirect speech. After tell, the indirect object comes immediately after the verb.  

She greeted us. (indirect speech)

She told us that she was our guide.  (indirect speech)

She greeted us and told us  that she was our guide. (indirect speech)

She told us that she was our guide.  (indirect speech) 

She told us to follow her.  (request / command)
 

 

Also see Say / Tell / Add

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say

Other Meanings

What time does the clock say?
 

 

SAY  Expressions

EXPRESSION SENTENCE

INDICATE OR SHOW

What time does the clock say ?

ATTENTION GETTER

Say, can you help me?

TO SAY PRAYERS

Say your prayers and go to bed.

TO ASSUME A HYPOTHESES

Let's say , for the sake of argument, that the "earth is flat".

TO BE CERTAIN

It's hard to say exactly what is wrong.

A SOCIAL MESSAGE

Finally, we have a leader with something to say.

FINAL AUTHORITY

Who has the say-so here? (person with decision-making authority)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell

Other Meanings

tell
 

 

TELL Expressions

EXPRESSION SENTENCE

THE TRUTH, A LIE

He always tells the truth / a lie.

RECOUNT 

He tells me jokes / stories / anecdotes.

PLANS, FACTS, DETAILS

He told me his plans.

TIME, DATE, YEAR, HOUR

Could you tell me the time.

THE DIFFERENCE

Can you tell the difference between black and navy blue?

TELL / SPILL SECRETS

Do tell!

SCOLD

She told him off after he missed their date.

INFORM, TATTLE

She told on me after I took an extra cookie. I was in trouble with Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

pizza
 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

A quick-thinking pizza man told he threw a large, hot pepperoni pizza at a gunman to stop him.
Solution - lightbulb Pop-q "told"   

He said me that he would come at noon.

(similar words: announce, declared, explain, mention, etc.) 

He told that he was lost.

ERROR

A quick-thinking pizza man said (that) that he threw a large, hot, pepperoni pizza at a gunman to stop him.

A quick-thinking pizza man told reporters (that) he threw a large, hot, pepperoni pizza at a gunman to stop him.

A quick-thinking pizza man told reporters how he threw a large, hot, pepperoni pizza at a gunman to stop him.

A quick-thinking pizza man told reporters about throwing a large, hot, pepperoni pizza at a gunman to stop him.

He said to me that he would come at noon.

He told me that he would come at noon.

He said that he was lost.

He told everyone that he was lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Chess

Chess
 

 

Say or Tell?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-10" button at the bottom, or click the check button to the left  as you go.

 

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