Say or Tell?

When are say and tell not interchangeable?

People will say that say and tell are the same thing. To tell you the truth, these words aren't always interchangeable, and we will explain how they differ.

My sister always tells lies, so you shouldn't' believe anything she says.



Say is (more often than tell) used to report the specifics of a message in exact or nearly exact words (paraphrasing).


She didn't say anything to me, so I didn't hear her accent.

We want to say how sorry we are that your mother passed away.

He asked her to marry him, and she said yes she would love to. They could hardly wait to tell everyone about their engagement.

Tell tell-told-told-telling Tell is (more often than say) used to report ideas, the occurrence of an event or a sequence of events, or the purpose of a communication and not exact or nearly exact words contained within the communication.


They told us about their vacation at the beach in Mexico.

He told the children ghost stories in the moonlight around the campfire. We told you we would explain it in under a minute, and we meant exactly what we said.

Thanks for reading! See you next week.


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