Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Say and Tell - Intermediate Level

In many languages 'say' and 'tell' mean the same and are used in the same way.  In English, both verbs mean to communicate verbally, but they are used differently:     

Say: You say something.        

Tell: You tell someone something.

SAY: Is used to express something in words, to report, to make a statement or to repeat.

TELL: Is used to give a detailed account, to inform, to give instructions.

We can say:  "She said to me to go."  

We cannot say: "She said me to go". 

SAY structure

1. Say + direct object (something/the thing you said).
    e.g I said sorry. 

2. Say + direct object +to + indirect object(someone, the person to whom you said it).
    e.g I said sorry to Mike.

3. Say + noun

    e.g. Say a prayer.

Expressions with SAY:

Say good morning/afternoon/evening/night.
Say it's true or false.
Say a lot/a little.
Say nothing.
Say sorry/thanks/please.
Say a prayer
Say yes/no.
Say what you want to say.
Say it out loud.
Say hello/goodbye.

   Say direct speech:

    Jim said, "Hello Susan."

    "That's great news!" he said.
    Susan said, "I love you".

   We use say for direct questions:
    She said: "Do you love me?"
    The policeman said to the prisoner, "Where were you at 8pm?"

    We can say: "He told me to wait."  
    We cannot say: "He told to me to wait". 

   TELL structure:
    1. Tell + object pronoun (me/him/her/the person we're speaking to/about)
       e.g. I told him.

    2. Tell + object pronoun + direct object (something/the thing you said)
       e.g. I told him a lie.

    3. Tell + object pronoun + about + direct object (something)
       e.g. I told him about the meeting.

    4. Tell + object pronoun + infinitive (for instructions and advice)
       e.g. She told me to listen very carefully.    

   Expressions with TELL:
    Tell a story/joke.
    Tell a secret.
    Tell a friend.
    Tell the truth/time.
    Tell a lie.
    Tell me why/how.

   TELL direct speech:
    He told her: "Open the door quietly."
    She told me, "I have never been to Spain."

   Direct questions:
    We cannot use TELL with direct questions.

   Reported speech:

    We can use 'SAY' and 'TELL' to talk about reported information.
    She said that it was raining.
    She told me that she would call at 2.00 pm.
    She said (that) it was cold.
    He told me (that) it was cold.
    He said (that) he was tired.
    He told me he was tired.
    He said to me that he was hungry.
    John said to Debbie that he was too busy to help.
    Sharon told James that she loved him.
    We told them not to wait.

   Reported questions:
    We cannot use 'say' or 'tell' to talk about reported questions. We must use'ASK':

    She asked if I had ever been to Italy.
    He asked what I wanted to do when I finished university.
    They asked where I was born.
    She asked if I was looking for a new job.

Exercise 1: First listen to the song 'The Scientist' by Coldplay.  Listen a second time and try to write down any expressions that you hear with SAY and TELL. Finally, watch the video and read the lyrics.  Check that you have at least 6 different expressions with SAY and TELL:

* Answers below

Exercise 2Look at the sentences below, which of the two options is correct?

1. a) He told that he loves chocolate.
   b) He said that he loves chocolate.

2. a) He said if I wanted a chicken sandwich for lunch.
    b) He asked if I wanted a chicken sandwich for lunch.

3. a) Greg told me that he was tired.
    b) Greg said me that he was tired.

4. a) Thomas told Jo to go away.
    b) Thomas said Jo to go away.

5. a) Jay said me that he was French.
    b) Jay told me that he was French.

6. a) Robin always says me the truth.
    b) Robin always tells me the truth.

*Answers below

Exercise 3: Listen to the song 'Don't tell me' by Madonna.  Make a list of 5 instructions using TELL, check the lyrics and sing along afterwards:

* Answers below

Any comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below.  If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always send me an email:

Thanks and I hope you found this post helpful :-)

* Exercise 1 answers:

1. Tell you I'm sorry
2. Tell you I need you
3. Tell me your secrets
4. Nobody said it was easy 
5. No one ever said it would be this hard 
6. Tell me you love me.

* Exercise 2 correct answers:

1. b) He said that he loves chocolate.

2. b) He asked if I wanted a chicken sandwich for lunch.

3. a) Greg told me that he was tired.

4. a) Thomas told Jo to go away.

5. b) Jay told me that he was French.

6. b) Robin always tells me the truth.

* Exercise 3 possible answers:

1. Don't tell me to stop
2.Tell the rain not to drop
3.Tell the wind not to blow
4.Tell the sun not to shine
5.Tell me love isn't true
6.Tell me everything I'm not
7.Tell the leaves not to turn
8.Don't ever tell me I'll learn
9.Don't tell me I have to go

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