English Lesson Say, Talk, & Tell

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Today we will look at three words which are often confusing in English – Say, Talk, & Tell. Each of these has a very similar meaning but the way we use them is different.

What did you say?
Say relates to the words we use. So when you are not sure of someone’s words, you would ask them:

  • What did you say?

When you want to refer to the exact words you or someone else used, you use say. The structure is [someone] says [something], like this:

  • Brad said, “I am going to New York next week.” (use “quotes” when you want to report the exact words)
  • Brad said he was going to New York next week. (no “quotes” is ok when you want to report the information)
  • The weather man says it is going to rain today.

Careful! We don’t use the person spoken to after say:

  • She said she likes me Not, She said me she likes me.
  • I told her I like her. Not, I said her I like her

What do you want to tell me?
Tell relates to giving information. When you want to hear information from someone, you can use tell:

Tell me about your country.

The structure we use is [someone] tell [someone] [something]

  • Grandma tells us stories about the family
  • The teacher told us his name.
  • I thought I told you I can go there!

You can also say, he told the truth or he told a lie

Can I talk to you after class?
Talk relates to people having a conversation. You can talk to someone or talk about something with someone, like this:

  • I talked to Joan this morning. We talked about so many things.
  • I want to talk to you about your homework.
  • We like to talk at the coffee shop.

We also talk on the phone and Skype:

  • We talked on the phone for two hours!
  • Talking on Skype is free.

Talk is also used when one person is speaking in front of a group. We can also use speak:

  • The president talked for 25 minutes or The president spoke for 25 minutes.

Well, I think I have said a lot! I would like to talk more, but to tell you the truth, that is all I have to say. Please tell me what you think about today’s lesson!