Intermediate Grammar – To say and to tell

Hey there!

Welcome to today’s grammar class. It is an intermediate class all about the verbs “to say” and “to tell”.  If you are not sure of your English level, take our test!

You can find all of this information, plus speaking exercises, writing exercises, vocabulary exercises and more on the ABA English Course Unit 73 “The Boss in Love”. Click here to sign up for free.

To Say and To Tell

The verbs “say” and “tell”, as we are sure you know, have a similar meaning: “to express with the spoken words”. However, they are used a little bit differently.

Let’s find out how: with “say” we say something to someone. With “tell” someone something. Do you see the difference?


Say goodbye to John”

Tell John goodbye”

“Tell” is used in a few expressions, such as: to tell… the truth, a lie, a story, a joke or a secret.

To Say and To Tell in reported speech

We use reported speech to report people’s words and thoughts. We often use “say” and “tell” in the simple past in reported speech.

The past tense of “say” is “said” and of “tell” it’s “told”.

We usually use “tell” to say something to someone. We usually use “say” without a personal object.


“He told her he was not feeling well”

“He said he was not feeling well”

“Pauline said she liked fish and chips”

“Pauline told us she liked fish and chips”

Well done! You have just reviewed how to use the verbs “to say” and “to tell”, and know when to use each one.

Also, if you want to learn more about reported speech, go to our ABA English Course, to Unit 140 and Unit 141.

In Unit 73 “The Boss in Love”, you will meet Leslie and Karen. Find out if one of them is in love with their boss! By watching the ABA Film, you will practice your listening comprehension. Record your voice and compare phrases to improve your speaking and learn how to write correctly. You will also gain fluency by interpreting roles and then you will learn the grammar and new vocabulary.

So remember: if you enjoyed this lesson, don’t forget to sign up! (it’s free!)



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