Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I wonder if I should use 'said' or 'told' in the following dialogue:

I waited for too long. He took her away.

I said to him crying, "I saw her first!"

He said to me smiling,

"finders keepers."

(by the way, is it correct to use "finders keepings" in this situation?).

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Tell focuses on giving information.

Please tell me your name.

Say focuses on the act of speaking

Please say that again because I didn't hear what you said.

I guess here, better to use "tell"

more info:

SAY:

  • Say is used to report someone's words:
  She said "I'm thirsty."


 She said that she was thirsty.
  • Say is followed by 'to' before the object:
 Did she say that to you?
  • Say is used to ask about languages :
 How do you say 'water' in Spanish?

We say : hello, goodbye, please, thank you, congratulations, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday!

TELL:

  • Tell is used to inform or instruct :
 Could you tell me the way to the station please?

 Tell the children to go to bed!
  • Tell is followed directly by the object :
 Did she tell you her name?
  • Tell is used for narration :
 Tom is good at telling stories.

We tell : the time, our name, the truth, lies, the difference between two things.

share|improve this answer
    
So I should use "He told me" or "He said to me" in the "Finders, Keepers" part? –  janoChen May 7 '11 at 13:02
    
@Janochen: I think "He told me" is better in this case. –  Gigili May 7 '11 at 13:05
    
Great answer. Thanks! –  janoChen May 7 '11 at 13:06
add comment

I presume you're talking about the sentence:

I said to him crying, "I saw her first!"

This isn't really clear, since crying can mean weeping or shouting. At least it would require a comma:

I said to him, crying, "I saw her first!"

But if you mean crying as in shouting out, then why not simply say that?

I cried, "I saw her first!"

share|improve this answer
    
@Robusto I mean crying (with tears). So is it OK to use said to him instead of told him? –  janoChen May 7 '11 at 12:52
1  
@Robusto: Actually he was asking between "say" and "tell"... :D –  Alenanno May 7 '11 at 12:55
    
@Robusto So should I change 'He said to me smiling, ' to 'He said to me, smiling,' too? –  janoChen May 7 '11 at 12:58
    
@janoChen: I would use a comma there, yes. –  Robusto May 7 '11 at 13:01
1  
@Alenanno: I accidentally upticked your comment. Oh well ... in any case, I know what @janoChen was asking. I responded to what I thought the OP should have been asking. :) –  Robusto May 7 '11 at 13:03
show 3 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.