For my first post I want to try to help you to understand when and how to use tell and say . This is often a big problem for many English learners.

So, when to use tell? Tell is used for instructions and information and we usually say who is told (a personal object) as in this example:  I told Peter to finish his homework (instruction) and here’s another Please tell him I will be late (information).

We tell someone something.

Also, we tell the time, tell a story, tell a lie, tell the truth, tell a joke and tell the difference.

The teacher told a story to the class

I was telling a joke to Emma

If you tell the truth he will understand

 

Say is more often used in direct speech and to report someone’s words and is often used without a personal object, for example: he said it was my last chance.

What did you say? I  said the exam will take 2 hours.

When a personal object is used say is always followed by ‘to’: I said to him that we will be leaving at 9.00pm. & Please say to Tom; I’ll call him when I return

Say is used to ask about language: How do you say that in French?

Also, we say hello, goodbye, please, thank you, yes, no, Happy Birthday, congratulations.

Now why not follow this link to practice using say and tell?


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