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say OR tell?

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
Ram said that he was tired. Ram told Jane that he was tired.
Anthony says you have a new job. Anthony tells me you have a new job.
Tara said: "I love you." Tara told John that she loved him.

But, of course, it is not always so easy. Here are a few rules to help you.

Personal object
We usually follow tell with a personal object (the person that we are speaking to). We usually use say without a personal object:

Say "to someone"
With say, we sometimes use "to someone":

Direct speech
We can use say with direct speech. We use tell only with direct speech that is an instruction or information:

We can use say with direct questions, but we cannot use tell:

Reported speech
We can use say and tell to talk about reported information:

We cannot use say or tell to talk about reported questions. We must use ask (or a similar verb):

Orders, advice
We use tell + object + infinitive for orders or advice:

Phrases
Here are a few fixed phrases with tell. We cannot use say with these phrases:

Right and wrong
Read these examples of correct and incorrect usage:

right wrong Because we cannot...
Tara told Jo to go away. Tara said Jo to go away. say someone to do something
Panita told me that she was hungry. Panita said me that she was hungry. say someone something
He said that he likes coffee. He told that he likes coffee. tell something
Tookta told me that she was coming. Tookta told to me that she was coming. tell to someone
Tookta said to me that she was coming.
Siriluck always tells lies. Siriluck always says lies. say a lie
Ram said to Nok: "Let's turn on the TV." Ram told Nok: "Let's turn on the TV." tell somebody "direct speech"
(except instructions and information)
(Ram told Nok, "Turn on the TV.")
(Ram told Nok: "I was born in 1985.")
She asked if I wanted to come. She said if I wanted to come. say or tell a reported question
Took asked what I wanted to do. Tookta told what I wanted to do.