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  • Say vs Tell

    Grammar chart illustrating the difference between 'say' and 'tell' with examples and special expressions.

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    Let’s learn the difference between the verbs say and tell. These verbs have similar meanings but are used in different ways.

    Tell SOMEONE

    After the verb tell, we always need an indirect object (the person we are telling).

    • I always tell him I love him.
    • The teacher told us to leave.


    We can use tell without a personal object (me, your, him, her, etc.) with some expressions: tell a story, tell the time, tell a lie, tell the truth, tell a secret, tell a joke, tell the difference.

    • You must tell the truth. blank
    • You must tell us the truth. blank
    • You must say the truth. blank


    After the verb say, we need a direct object (the thing that is said).

    • She says that she is happy.
    • She said something.

    If you want to include the indirect object, you need to add to before the person.

    • She said to me that she was happy.
    • She said something to Clara.

    Common mistakes!

    • She said me that she was happy. blank
    • She told me that she was happy. blank
    • She said that she was happy. blank
    • He told that everything was OK. blank
    • He said that everything was OK. blank


    Take this quiz to check what you know!

    Page 1 of 10

    1 She _____ me she was moving to a new city.


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