Bushra, the verbs say and tell have similar meanings. They both mean "to communicate verbally with someone". But we often use them differently. The simple way to think of say and tell is:
- You say something
- You tell someone something
But, of course, it is not always so easy. Here are a few rules to help you.
1. Say "to someone"
With say, we sometimes use "to someone":
- He said to me that he was tired.
- Tara said to Ram that he had done very well.
- Anthony said to her, "I hope you come soon."
- "I'd like to sleep," she said to him quietly.
Here are a few fixed phrases with tell. We cannot use say with these phrases:
tell (someone) a story
tell (someone) a lie
tell (someone) the truth
tell the future (= to know what the future will bring)
tell the time (= know how to read a clock)
3. Direct speech
We can use say with direct speech. We use tell only with direct speech that is an instruction or information:
- Amanda said, "Hello John. How are you?"
- "That's great," she said.
- He told her: "Open the door quietly."
- She told me, "I have never been to England."