Say vs. Tell
What is the difference?
are two commonly
in the English
language. When do you use each one?
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These two words have very similar meanings, because they both
talk about giving information to another person using words. However,
the emphasis is different for each one!
We'll look at explanations about what each word means and review some
to see how each one works.
Remember that it's very common to use say
that means to express information in words.
the emphasis is on the information.
always followed immediately
by what is said
If you want to mention the listener, you can use the word to at the end of the statement. Study
said a very bad word
to the teacher.
We were all surprised!
- What did Jefferson say? A very bad
- In this example,
we also mention the listener with to.
- She said
about a party.
- In this
case, the speaker can't remember exactly what was said. He just knows
it was something about a party.
- There is a new secretary working in the office. Be sure to say hello to her!
should you say? Hello!
- In this
example, we also mention the listener with to
- They said,
without us. We'll be a bit late."
did they say? "Start without us. We'll be a bit late."
- Irene said
it wasn't a
did Irene say? That it wasn't a problem.
means to communicate information to a person in words.
the emphasis is on the listener.
Tell is always followed immediately by whom we tell.
- Kim told
Allen about the meeting first.
first people she told were Jeremy and Allen.
- Please tell
not to call the house so late.
people you should give this information to are your friends.
- They told
that class was cancelled.
did they tell? They told me.
- We will tell
about the new system and give lots of training before we begin working
will they tell about the new system? Everyone.
- Please tell
supervisor if you are sick and cannot come to work.
should you notify if you are sick? Your supervisor.
When you have to decide
whether to use say
think about the focus of your sentence.
If you want to put the emphasis on the information (what you say)
first, you should use say.
If you want to put the emphasis on the listener (whom you tell)
first, you should use tell.
These were the differences between say
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