Monday, April 07, 2014

Say / Tell / Speak / Talk

  • To say is to make a simple statement of fact. The statement does not necessarily have to be addressed to any particular person, but, if it is, it is followed by "to".
  • To tell is to give instructions, orders or information to another person and must always be followed by a person object, except in certain expressions: tell the truth, tell a lie, tell the time, tell the difference, tell a story, etc.
  • To speak is generally considered to be more specific than talk. It is used with languages and adverbs of manner. 
  • To talk is often used with "about". 
Exercise 1. Cross out the incorrect verbs in the following sentences:
  1. He said/told that he had a headache.
  2. "What did he say/tell?" "He said/told me he didn't want to go out tonight."
  3. "What a lovely dress!", told/said Helen.
  4. The teacher told/said them to finish their homework.
  5. My sister always says/tells the truth; she never tells/says lies.
  6. I had to say/tell him how to make an omelette.
  7. "Do you have something to tell/say me?"
  8. "You are speaking/talking much too fast. Slow down!"
  9. He talks/speaks English much more fluently since he's been to the States.
  10. "What sort of things would you like to talk/speak about today?"
Exercise 2. Put the corresponding tense/form of say, tell, speak or talk in the blanks.

My friend John is always on the phone. He calls me ________ about hs job, ________ me the latest news or sometimes just ________ hello. His conversations are never very short; sometimes he ________ for hours about his favourite subjects and he ________ very quickly. The trouble with John is that you can't always believe what he ________. When he _______ me he'd met a wonderful Spanish woman on holiday and she'd ________ she would marry him, I was pretty sure he was ________ a lie. Apart from the fact that he doesn't _______ the language at all, a mutual friend of ours _______ me that he has never actually been abroad. She also _______ that he doesn't even have a passport!

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