Difference Between “Say” and “Tell”
“Say” and “tell” are commonly used verbs in English that are used to communicate information or express speech. While they both involve communication, they have distinct differences in their usage and structure. Understanding the difference between “say” and “tell” is important for accurate and effective communication, not only in exams like TOEFL but also in other language proficiency tests such as IELTS, Cambridge exams (FCE, CAE, CPE), and others. In this section, we will explore the nuances of “say” and “tell” and provide examples to illustrate their proper usage.
1- “Say”: “Say” is a verb used to report or convey spoken words or statements. It is often used without an object and followed directly by the reported speech. “Say” does not require a specific recipient of the information.
Example: She said, “I’ll be there at 8 o’clock.”
2- “Tell”: “Tell” is a verb used to communicate or relay information to a specific person or audience. It requires an object, which can be the person being informed or the reported speech. “Tell” is followed by an indirect object (the recipient) and, optionally, a direct object (the reported speech).
Example: He told me that he would arrive late.
“Say” is typically used without an object and directly followed by the reported speech.
“Tell” requires an indirect object (the recipient) and, optionally, a direct object (the reported speech).
She said, “I love this book.”
She told me, “I love this book.”
4- Reporting Speech:
“Say” is more commonly used when reporting general statements or information.
“Tell” is used when reporting specific instructions, commands, or personal conversations.
He said that it’s going to rain tomorrow. (General statement)
He told me to bring an umbrella. (Specific instruction)
Conclusion: Understanding the difference between “say” and “tell” is important for clear and accurate communication. Whether you’re preparing for TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge exams, or any other language proficiency test, mastering the usage of “say” and “tell” will help you effectively convey your message. Practice using these verbs in different contexts to strengthen your understanding and improve your English language proficiency.