Say and tell mean the same thing but are used in different constructions.
- We say something
- We say something to someone
- We say to someone something
- We tell someone something
Preposition to is never used after tell.
- Mother said: “I am very happy.”
- Mother said (that) she was very happy.
- Mother said to me, “I am very happy.”
- Mother told me (that) she was happy.
Commands and advice: Tell + object + infinitive – is used for commands and advice:
- Tell someone (not) to do something
- The teacher told us to stand up.
- She told me not to worry about the time.
Remember the following phrases with say:
so you say
it goes without saying
Remember the following phrases with tell:
tell a story/stories
tell a joke/jokes
tell a lie/lies
tell the truth
tell the future (= to know what the future will bring)
tell the time (= know how to read a clock)
tell apart (=to be able to see the difference between two things/people)