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Common Mistakes and Confusing Words in English
|say / said
tell / told
To say v. Means to pronounce words or sounds, to express a thought, opinion, or suggestion, or to state a fact or instruction.
For example: "I often say the wrong thing."
is the past simple and past participle of to say. It can be used in direct speech:
is used before the name of a person or thing you have already mentioned:
To tell v. means to say something to someone, often giving them information or instructions.
For example: "I often tell people how to practise their English."
Told v. is the past simple and past participle of to tell.
It is normally used in reported speech, i.e. it is used to talk about what people say (followed by an object + that:):
When told has the meaning of "instruct", it can be followed by an object and an infinitive.