「tell、talk、speak、say」の違い (part 1)

Sometimes people tell me that these words are confusing, so I want to talk about them over a few posts. However, first I want to tell you that I'm sorry it has been so long since my last post.

First, let me tell you about "tell". "Tell" has several meanings. The most common one uses a person as an object, like the "tell" in this sentence and the one above it, and then it is followed by some content that is told. The other day someone I know wrote:

× He told he's a college student. <- "he's a college student" is the content
◯ He told me that he's a college student. <- "tell" needs a person as an object

◯ He said that he's college student. <- or you can use "said" instead

Sometimes we use "tell" with an object like "story" or "joke" or another word that describes the content of what you are saying.

◯ I can't tell a lie; I've been working on an important secret project. I'll tell the story of my recent business later.

Another really common meaning for "tell" is to say that someone can understand something based on what you perceive.

tell ~ apart ~を見分ける、~を区別する (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
● tell ~ from ~と…を識別する・How can you tell the flu from a cold? : インフルエンザと風邪は、どうやって見分けることができますか。 (definition and example from Eijiro on the Web)

Can you tell what that is a photo of? I'll tell you in the next post I make.

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