How to Use 'Say' and 'Tell'


In reported statements, we can use either 'say' or 'tell'. The meaning is the same, but the grammar is different. For example:

Direct speech:

Reported speech: OR

With 'tell' we NEED the object (e.g. 'me', 'you', 'her').
With 'say' we CAN'T use the object (e.g. 'me', 'them', 'us').

So we CAN'T say:

Here are some correct examples:

(We can also use 'tell' in reported orders. In this case, 'tell' is followed by a direct object and 'to + infinitive': 'She told me to sit down'. You can learn more about this here).

Try an exercise about using 'say' and 'tell' here.
Learn more about reported speech here.

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'A' and 'The' Explained