What did the wolf say to her/tell her

Pedro Pinilla

Member
Spanish Madrid
I have two sentences

1. What did the wolf say to her when he saw her?
2. What did the wolf tell her when he saw her?

or

3. What do you want me to say to him?
4. What do you want me to tell him?

I think the right one is the 1 and 3 if the speaker wants to focus the attention on the thing that was said (direct object) more than the person whom it's was said (indirect object).

Am I right?

Thank you in advance!
 
  • Amapolas

    Senior Member
    Castellano rioplatense
    Opino igual que Bevj. Creo que lo que puede confundirte es pensarlo en español (le dijo a) y asumir que "say to" es una traducción más directa o más precisa. Pero ambas valen.
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    1. What did the wolf say to her when he saw her?
    2. What did the wolf tell her when he saw her?
    3. What do you want me to say to him?
    4. What do you want me to tell him?
    I agree that all three are correct and have basically the same meaning. However, the two verbs are not always interchangeable. For instance, only to tell is used for indirect commands: I told you to wash the car / Te dije que laves el coche. Also, only to say is used to report what was spoken by someone: She said that she was married / Ella dijo que estaba casada.
     

    Dosamuno

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    say OR tell? | Vocabulary | EnglishClub

    Michael Swan in Practical English Usage mentions very much the same things.
    (pp.541-542):
    1. Tell normally has to be followed by a personal direct object...Say is usually used without a personal object.
    2. Say can be used with direct speech. Tell is only used in direct speech when what is quoted is either an instruction or a piece of information.
    3. Tell+object+infinitive is used to talk about orders, commands, advice, etc. Say cannot be used like this."
     
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