Say vs Tell Exercises & Worksheet

During this short English lesson, you will learn the difference between the verbs “say” and “tell”

“Say” and “tell” are irregular verbs in English which tend to be confusing for English language learners, since they have pretty similar meanings.

These are the forms of both verbs:

The past simple and past participle of say is said, for tell is told.

  • She said something inappropriate during the meeting
  • She told me a story during the lunch break

Now, let’s check some information that will let’s know when to use “say” and “tell”

Difference Between “Say” and “Tell”

“Say focuses on the words someone said and “tell” focuses on the message of what someone said.

“Tell” is usually accompanied by a personal object. For example:

  • She told me something about a certain project
  • She tells me the same thing every day

“Tell” is the verb commonly used to report a command or instruction in English:

  • They told me to create a new website
  • She told me not to spend more money on phone games

Say” needs to be accompanied by to

  • She didn’t say anything hurtful to me
  • She said to me that she was gonna swim

In reported speech, “say” is the verb commonly used:

  • He said, ‘I’m not paying $100 for that hat.’
  • He said that she was going to take the bus

Collocations using Say and Tell

When it comes to identifying the difference between “say” and “tell”, you have to remember the collocations related to both verbs

These are some collocations with tell

#1Tell a joke
#2Tell a lie
#3Tell someone
#4Tell a story
#5Tell the truth
#6Tell time
#7Tell a secret
#8Tell a friend
#9Tell a tale
#10Tell a joke
#11Tell the future
#12Tell the difference

These are some collocation with say:

#1Say sorry
#2Say Goodbye
#3Say a word
#4Say “Please”
#5Say something aloud
#6Say a prayer
#7Say a few words
#8Say hello

Say and Tell Difference: Video Explanation

In this English lesson, the difference between these say and tell with many example sentences.

Say and Tell Exercise


Write “say” or “tell” to complete the sentences

Say and Tell Exercise


Write “said” or “told” to complete the sentences

Tell vs Say Worksheet

Complete the sentences by writing the past form of the verbs “say” and “tell”

In case you want to download the PDF version, you can get it for free from my Gumroad Store

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

Soy Manuel Campos, Profesor de Inglés y creador de, un blog para compartir lecciones para quienes desean aprender o mejorar su Inglés