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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Is there any difference between 'tell lies' and 'tell a lie'

    If my child lied to me, is it correct to tell him as follows:-

    1)Don't lie to me 2)Don't tell lies 3) Don't tell a lie

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 27-Jul-2012 at 11:16.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: Is there any difference between 'tell lies' and 'tell a lie'

    #3 isn't very natural.

    #1 specifically means that you are telling the child not to lie to you. The child could assume that it's OK to lie to other people.

    #2 is a general instruction not to tell lies to anyone.

    Personally, I prefer the simple "Don't lie."
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Is there any difference between 'tell lies' and 'tell a lie'

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    #3 isn't very natural.

    #1 specifically means that you are telling the child not to lie to you. The child could assume that it's OK to lie to other people.

    #2 is a general instruction not to tell lies to anyone.

    Personally, I prefer the simple "Don't lie."
    Many thanks,emsr2d2.

    I heard some non-native speakers said 'He told a lie', when they found a person was lying. Are they correct?

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: Is there any difference between 'tell lies' and 'tell a lie'

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Many thanks,emsr2d2.

    I heard some non-native speakers said 'He told a lie', when they found a person was lying. Are they correct?

    Thanks again.
    There's nothing wrong with that when you are talking about one specific example when someone lied. It's just that "Don't tell a lie" isn't really used as a generalisation. I have frequently said "I feel bad. I told a [little white/huge] lie to my grandfather yesterday!" I might use that instead of the simple "I lied to my grandfather yesterday" to make it clear that it was just one lie, I didn't lie to him all day.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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