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Difference between said to and told


Last Updated:   Category: Education    
Author: Member Level: Gold    Points: 10


The words ' said to' and' told' are sometimes wrongly used.



I have noticed people getting confused while using the words ' said'' told ' and the phrases - said to - said that.

I would like to clarify their doubts in a very simple manner:

They have the same meaning but their usage is different.

First important point to remember: Never say 'told to'. It is wrong. Use only'told'. For example: He told to me (wrong) Say ' He told a joke to me'

2. Mary said " I have fever" The sentence is in direct speech and is quoted. When you remove the quote and change it into indirect speech say: Mary said that she had fever.Here , there is no object.That is, the person whom she has spoken to is not mentioned.

3. Mary said to John ," I have fever" Change it to- Mary told John that she had fever.

Please note; Here , there is an object who is John.Therefore we should say- said to and not said that.In indirect speech we should use- told and not told to

6. When you write in indirect speech , always use' told' - when there is an object.

7. He said that he was busy.( Here there is no object) Don't say " He told that he was busy"

8. He told Mary that he was busy. Here , there is an object- Mary. Therefore, use- told .

9. You should 'tell'or 'told " with the following: a story, a joke, a lie, time ,the truth,a secret

Examples: Please tell the truth. I told a story to my friend. Raj told a good joke. She told a lie. Mary told the time had come to go to office.
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Responses to "Difference between said to and told"
Author: Radha Muralidhar    02 Jul 2010Member Level: Gold   Points : 2
Hi Salome,

Thanks for pointing out the error. It happened by mistake. The rule is ' He told ...... Who? the object should be(me) the person, not the joke' After sending it , I thought about it, but before I could do it, you have corrected it.

You have very rightly pointed out about importance of learning correct grammar. Learning the basics of grammar, does wonders for people who want to improve their English.



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