Say vs. Tell

Difference Between Say and Tell

Say and Tell are 2 verbs that are simply confused because of the familiarity in their meanings. Strictly speaking there is the difference between the two verbs ‘say’ and ‘repeat’.

One major differences between ‘tell’ and ‘say’ is that ‘tell’ is used with the direct object while ‘say’ is not usually used with the personal object. This difference is clear following sentences:

1. She told me that she would come in time.

2. She said that she would be in time.

In the first sentence the word ‘tell’ is used with a direct object. In the second sentence the verb ‘say’ is not used with the direct object.

It is interesting to note that ‘say’ is used with direct speech as in the sentence that Robert has said ‘come tomorrow’. On the other hand the word ‘repeat’ is used in direct speech only if what is quoted is a kind of order or some kind of information as in the sentence that I told her ‘take left and then turn right’.

In reported speech announced both these verbs are used to give the idea of information, but not a question. Look at the sentences given below:

1. I said I was too young then.

2. He did not tell us about his job.

In both of the given sentences use of the verbs ‘tell’ and ‘say’ is in reported speech. This is a significant differences between the verbs ‘say’ and ‘repeat’ when it comes to direct speech and reported speech.

‘Say’ is used with objects such as a word or name as in the sentence ‘Robert said a bad word. “It is important that the two verbs should be used with care.




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