Say vs Tell


Say vs Tell


= to speak words

Say/said is usually used when repeating what someone has said.

Ex: He said he was feeling sick.

Ex: What did she say?

Ex: When he said he was quitting, we became sad.


Prepositions used with say/ said

We use “to” with said to show who we are directing our words at.

Ex: He said to John that he was feeling sick.

We us “that” with said to share the information.

Ex: I said to her that I was going to quit.



= give information to a person

We have to use a personal object (the person we are speaking to) with tell because WHO received the information is more important than the information itself.

Ex: I told you about the party tonight.

Ex:  Have you told him the news?

Ex: She always tells me the truth.

Common mistake: He tells what to do. X

Correction: He tells me what to do. 🙂  ( We need the object “me”)


Prepositions used with tell

We use “to” with tell to give someone an order or make a strong request.

Ex: I told you to call me soon.

Ex: Didn’t I tell you to leave me alone?

We use “about” with tell to pass information about an event or series of events.

Ex: Did I tell you about my party?

Ex: Let me tell you about a friend of mine.

We use “that” with tell to express an action or permanent situation

Ex: Did I tell you that I changed my phone number?


Say and tell



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