Difference Between Said and Told

Said vs Told

The pair of words ‘said and told’ do not pose problems for those whose mother tongue is English but if you ask those whose native language is not English and they will tell you how confused they remain when having to choose between these two words. Both said and told have similar meanings but are used in different contexts. Here is a brief explanation of this pair of words.

The most basic difference between said and told would be that you tell information but you say words.

Jane told Harry her name.

Harry said, “I am sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.”

Told is a transitive verb and always needs an object. You are committing a mistake if you try to use this word without an object.

I told the old man that I am new to the town. It is clear from the example that old man is the object in the sentence. Take out old man from the sentence and it becomes grammatically incorrect. However, said can be used without an object. Take a look. I said that I am new to the town.

There are two ways of making use of said in a sentence. It can be used to provide a direct or an indirect quote of what someone says. Take a look at these two variations of the same sentence.

John said, “I don’t like milk”.

John said that he didn’t like milk.

The only difference between these two sentences is that in the second indirect speech is used.

Therefore said is used as a verb to tell the readers that someone is saying something. It can be used for statements, exclamations, or even questions.

Told is also used to connote a demand or an order. It is also used to tell the reader that the speaker is providing information.

The teacher told the class that she expected all of them to be ready for assessment next day.

Tom told the police officer that he didn’t know the whereabouts of his neighbor’s dog.

In brief:

Told vs Said

• Told and said are words having similar meanings with different usages

• They are used in different contexts also

• Told is a transitive verb that needs an object in the sentence

• Said can be used with exclamation marks.