Say and tell have similar meanings. They both mean to communicate verbally with someone. However, actually we use them differently.
The simple way to think of say and tell is:
- You say SOMETHING (to someone)
- You tell SOMEONE (something)
- Dina said, “I love you” to her dad.
- Andi says he has a new job.
- I said that I was worry.
- Dina told her dad that she loved him.
- Andi told me that he has a new job.
- I told Amri that I was worry.
We can use say with direct speech and we use tell only with direct speech that is an instruction or information:
- Amanda said, “Hello John. How are you?”
- “That’s great”, she said.
- He told her, “Open the door quietly.”
- She told me, “I have never been to England.”
We can use say with direct questions, but we cannot use tell:
- She said, “Do you love me?”
- The policeman said to the prisoner, “Where were you at 8pm?”
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 2pm.
We cannot use say or tell to talk about reported questions. We must use ask (or a similar verb):
- She asked if I had ever been there.
- They asked what I wanted to eat.
- She asked where he lived.
- He asked if she wanted to go home.
We use tell + object + infinitive for orders or advice:
- She told him to sit down.
- They told me not to wait.
- Tell Neil to have a holiday and forget her.
- He told a joke.
- She tells good stories.
- They told a lie.
- I always tell the truth.