|'say' and 'tell'|
Brian said to me: I speak Russian or Brian told me he spoke Russian.
Say is the standard verb which is used to indicate direct speech in any narrative - anecdotes, short stories, novels, etc. It is often used with other 'reporting' verbs, which may be more descriptive or more colourful than the all-purpose say and therefore preferred.Compare the following:
Say is also used to introduce indirect speech with a that clause. In the examples that follow, please note:
~ the conjuction that is usually not used, unless it is needed to emphasise what is being reported
~ say cannot be followed by a direct personal object
~ as with the direct speech examples above, other reporting verbs may be preferred
If we use tell to report statements like those above in indirect speech, we must remember that tell has to be followed by a direct personal object:
Tell is often used with an object + infinitive to express orders, instructions, requests and advice.
Other reporting verbs can also be used in this way, although say cannot be used like this. Compare the following: