say VS tell

simonaj

Senior Member
italian, Italy
What is the difference between "to say" and "to tell"? E come si usano, cioè quando si usa l'uno invece dell'altro?
thanks.
 
  • moshi

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    - puoi usare "tell" come "raccontare" : tell a story
    - col significato di "dire" sono sinonimi, ma "tell" si usa in genere come "dire a qualcuno" (you told me), mentre say è più generale (she said that...).

    I madrelingua saranno molto più chiari e utili di me!!! :)
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    What is the difference between "to say" and "to tell"? E come si usano, cioè quando si usa l'uno invece dell'altro?
    thanks.

    Interesting question. I have the same issues in Italian!:)

    "to say" - is a general description of speech - like "dire".
    Esempi:
    He said that the car was too small. (a specific person, but not necessarily said to a specific person or group)
    Dante said "it's hot down here!" (same as above)

    "to tell" - implies that a specific person will "say" something to one or more people. Something more like "raccontare".
    Esempi:
    Dante told Beatrice that he loved her. (very specific)
    Michelangelo told Giulio, "So tell me, what do you think?" (very specific)
    Garibaldi told the crowd "Let's unite Italy!" (very specific)

    Peró, c'è un problema:
    "to say to" someone is like "to tell"
    Dante said to Beatrice that he loved her.
    Michelangelo said to Giulio, "Tell me, what do you think?" (very specific)
    Garibaldi said to the crowd "Let's unite Italy!" (very specific)

    There are exceptions to all rules, but I think this is reasonable as a start.
     

    87andrea

    New Member
    italian
    Vorrei sapere che differenza c'è tra i verbi SAY e TELL.

    Per esempio nel discorso indiretto qualè l'opzione piu corretta?
    1)Bill told to mary to open the door
    2)Bill told mary to open the door
    3)Bill said to mary to open the door

    Un altro esempio su cui ho dei dubbi:

    1)George told Peter could come with him if he liked
    2)George said Peter could come with him if he liked

    Grazie in anticipo.
     

    Lorena1970

    Banned
    Italy, Italiano
    Vorrei sapere che differenza c'è tra i verbi SAY e TELL.

    Per esempio nel discorso indiretto qualè l'opzione piu corretta?
    1)Bill told to mary to open the door:cross:
    2)Bill told mary to open the door:tick:
    3)Bill said to mary to open the door:cross:

    Un altro esempio su cui ho dei dubbi:

    1)George told Peter could come with him if he liked:cross:
    2)George said Peter could come with him if he liked:tick:

    Grazie in anticipo.

    My attempt: I hope I did it right...:)
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Vorrei sapere che differenza c'è tra i verbi SAY e TELL.

    Per esempio nel discorso indiretto qualè l'opzione piu corretta?
    1)Bill told to Mary to open the door:tick:
    2)Bill told Mary to open the door:tick:
    3)Bill said to Mary to open the door:tick: (non è così comune, ma non penso che sia scorretto grammaticalmente)

    Un altro esempio su cui ho dei dubbi:

    1)George told Peter that he could come with him if he liked:tick:
    2)George said to Peter that he could come with him if he liked
     

    Lorena1970

    Banned
    Italy, Italiano
    Thank you Tim.
    I intended "George said (that?) Peter could come with him if he liked" as passive form. I was probably wrong...:confused:
     

    Ranocchietta

    Senior Member
    Italian
    What do you mean with passive ?
    I think she means that George told someone else that Peter was welcomed, if he wished to go.

    In Italian it would be: "George ha detto che Peter poteva andare con lui se lo desiderava".

    I think that in this sense the sentence is correct, or is there another way to say it?
     

    Azazel81

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    And I go: "what did Lorena mean by 'passive'?". I see no passive form in there... :confused:

    Anyway.. there are lots of things that still need to be said about "say vs tell"...

    For instance that there are certain expressions where you can use only "say" and some others where you can use only "tell".

    e.g.: you must say: "tell me the truth" or "don't tell lies!".. even if in Italian we have both ways ("dimmi/raccontami la verità" and "non dire/raccontare bugie!").
     

    Odysseus54

    Mod huc mod illuc
    Italian - Marche
    Le differenze sono :

    1) "To tell" regge il doppio accusativo : della cosa che si dice, e della persona a cui si dice.

    2) "To say" regge l'accusativo della cosa che si dice e il dativo ( con "to" ) della persona a cui si dice.

    3) "To tell" ha , oltre al significato generico di "dire" anche quelli specifici di "raccontare" e di "prescrivere" ( "dire a qualcuno perche' faccia qualcosa" ), piu' altri piu' idiomatici , p. es. "fare la spia" ( con "on" ).

    4) "To say" significa solo "dire"

    In molti casi i due verbi sono semanticamente intercambiabili, ma la costruzione deve essere modificata, da 'accusativo' a 'dativo' ( uso questi termini un po' impropriamente, perche' li trovo piu' diretti che "complemento oggetto" e "complemento di termine" )

    In altri casi invece, dove "tell" e' utilizzato in uno dei suoi significati piu' specifici, non sono intercambiabili.

    Esempi

    " He had told me that he would be late " = " He had said to me that he would be late "

    " I told him not to be late " non intercambiabile con "said", a meno che la 'prescrizione' contenuta in "told" non si renda con altri elementi della frase, vedi es. seguente

    " I told him (that he could) not be late " = " I said to him that he could not be late "

    Spero di non aver confuso le cose ulteriormente.
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Thank you Tim.
    I intended "George said (that?) Peter could come with him if he liked" as passive form. I was probably wrong...:confused:

    Hmmm...let's see what we can do.
    In terms of grammar (grammer?:D), I'm the last person you should ask.:)

    George said that Peter could come with him if he liked. (George talked to "someone" - maybe Peter, maybe not)
    George said to Peter that he could come with him if he liked. (George talked to "Peter")
    George told Peter that he could come with him if he liked. (George talked to "Peter").
     

    Lorena1970

    Banned
    Italy, Italiano
    I think she means that George told someone else that Peter was welcomed, if he wished to go.

    In Italian it would be: "George ha detto che Peter poteva andare con lui se lo desiderava".

    I think that in this sense the sentence is correct, or is there another way to say it?

    Yes, that's what I meant. Me either I am not so expert in terms of grammar rules, sorry :eek:.
     
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