Said vs Told – What’s the difference?

In English grammar, there are eight parts of speech. And among them, verbs are very important in forming complete and meaningful sentences. Words like say and tell come under this category. They are verbs, and our topic today said and told, is simply the simple past tense of the words say and tell.

Say and tell are irregular verbs that have unique past forms. Say is known as said in its past form, and tell is used as told in its past form. They both have a similar meaning, which means to communicate information verbally. But they are not the same.

Said vs Told - What's the difference?

Said vs. Told


Said basically means to say something. It refers to someone expressing information in words. So, when said is used, the emphasis is more on the words that someone spoke. It is immediately followed by what is said.

For example:

  • She said she was not coming for tomorrow’s meeting.
  • Sia said her uncle would pick her up.


Told is the past form of tell, which means saying something. However, when we use told, we emphasize more on someone communicating to a specific person or a group of persons. The main concern is the listener. This holds that told means to say something to someone.

For example:

  • Rajiv told his mother that he was not coming.
  • He told her about the meeting that she missed.

So, these are the main differences between said and told. While they are quite the same regarding the meaning, both have subtle differences regarding context.

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