These two verbs have similar meanings, but they are not always used in the same way.
The main difference between them is the order of the complements after the verbs:
Say something to someone.
Tell someone something
So, say is usually followed by the direct object, while tell needs an indirect object first.
- In direct speech, say can introduce statements, exclamations and questions, tell can only introduce statements. Inversion of say and noun subject is possible when it follows the statement. Mary said: "What a beautiful morning! = "What a beautiful morning!" said Mary. (Notice the subject-verb inversion). However, there is no inversion with tell.
- In indirect speech, both say and tell can be used in statements, but not in questions. Other verbs such as ask, inquire, wonder or want to know can be used. "Where do you live?" He asked me where I lived.
- In reported commands, requests or advice, we can use tell, but say is not possible. "Could you open the window, please?" He told her to open the window.
|a prayer||the time|
|a word||a story|
WHY ARE YOU LOOKING DOWN HERE? IT'S YOUR TURN TO SAY SOMETHING!!
Click on the links below and practise SAY & TELL