First things first. What’s the difference between say and tell? They both mean to communicate but we need to use an object after the verb “tell”. Let’s look at a few examples:
Nessa said she was hungry.
Nessa told me she was hungry.
The verb tell is used with an object, meaning the person or people who receive the information (the listeners). It would be wrong to say “Nessa told she was hungry.” You need the “me”.
There are also some very common collocations with these two verbs, including the following expressions. Be sure to get your practice in with your free worksheet on say and tell.
Phrases with Say
Say a few words: to give a short speech
My uncle said a few words before Christmas dinner.
Say a prayer: to pray
I said a prayer before bed.
Say what: really, are you kidding me?
I’m getting married next month.
Say: to imagine
Say you had a million dollars, what would you do first?
Well said: used to say you agree with someone’s opinion or thoughts
Thank you for sharing that. Well said!
Enough said: used to tell someone that something is clearly understood
Mark’s father owns the company where he just got a promotion.
Say when: used to ask someone how much they would like of something
Here’s some milk for your tea. Just say when.
Okay... That’s enough, thanks.
Easier said than done: used to say that something is a good idea, but will be difficult to do
All you need to do is make more sales.
Easier said than done.
Say the word: used to tell someone that you will do an action whenever they want
I can help you move next month. Just say the word and I’ll be there.
Say your piece: to express your opinion, especially if it’s critical
Everyone at the meeting will have a chance to say their piece.
Phrases with Tell
Tell it like it is: to honestly describe a situation, even if it’s unpleasant
I respect Marie because she always tells it like it is.
Tell time: to be able to read the numbers on a clock
I learned to tell time when I was five years old.
Tell someone off: to scold or angrily criticize someone
I was so angry with him that I had to tell him off.
Time will tell: the results of a situation or action will only become clear in the future
Only time will tell if the trees we planted will grow.
To tell you the truth: actually, used to express an honest opinion
How’s your new job?
To tell you the truth, I’m thinking of quitting.
Tell me about it: used as an expression that means “I agree”
Vacations can be exhausting!
Yeah, tell me about it!
Tell someone’s fortune: to predict someone’s future, often by using tarot card or reading palms
Let me see your right hand. I can tell you your fortune.
Tell something (about a person or situation): to identify or distinguish something
I could tell he was bored because he kept looking at the clock.
Tell her all your crazy dreams."