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    #1

    MJW

    Understand the rule for the use of say versus tell: we say something; we tell someone something.
    So what is the story with: She told the truth; he is telling the truth. Is there ever an instance when usage would be: say the truth?

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: MJW

    No, there isn't.

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    #3

    Re: MJW

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    No, there isn't.
    Rather then simply tell my students "no" I would like to be able to provide an explanation. Is it just a matter of the word 'truth' creates an exception to the usual usage rule of 'say & tell' or is there some other explanation? And if 'truth' creates an exception, are there other words that create a similar exception?

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: MJW

    Hmm. He told the story interestingly - there doesn't have to be an indirect object. Perhaps you have a dodgy 'rule'. It's rather Ptolemaic to start with a bad rule and then think up reasons for 'exceptions' to it.

    This is an interesting area. I believe that a hundred years ago or more it was possible to 'say truth' (no 'the'). If you think about it, 'the truth' is not what is being told; the speaker is being truthful. But if a child is adopted and finds out as an adult, he might say 'For 25 years everyone's been lying to me, and only now have I found at the truth' - he doesn't mean the truth that there are 5280 feet in a mile!

    So the concept of 'the truth' (and telling it) seems like a fairly recent one. The 'telling' might be analogous to obscure (and now archaic) uses of 'tell', like 'telling one's beads' (saying the rosary). But I am not justifying an exception to a rule. I am saying that rather than think about a world of rules and exceptions it might be more fruitful to do a bit of digging in historical dictionaries.

    b

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    #5

    Re: MJW

    You could them that 'tell the truth' is a fixed expression.

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    #6

    Re: MJW

    Why is the title of your thread "MJW"? It has nothing to do with the contents of your post. Remember that the title of your posts should include all or some of the words you are querying. A good title would have been "She told the truth" or similar.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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