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I have the following:

"I may not be able to meet you at the airport", he said to her.

I made up next sentence:

He said to her (that) he might not be able to meet her at the airport.

The key says I could use he "told her". Since we can't tell "say to someone" from "tell someone" exept for the fact that the first one may not take a personal object and "say" is usually followed by particle "to", I wonder if I'm able to use them in the same way?

Or, maybe, I can make out which to chose by the initial verb. I mean, the example is "said to her", thus I should have written "told her". Similiar to that, if I had "he said", I would write only "he said (that)...".

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    I would use told there, but you could use either. Told is more direct and is more likely to be used as a command, while "said to [someone]* is more casual, less forceful. – Robusto Oct 1 '17 at 13:40
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    In contexts of reporting speech indirectly, there is no appreciable difference, apart from the fact that told requires an indirect object. He said he was arriving at 9AM. He told me|her|him|them|us|you he was arriving at 9AM. "He told he was arriving at 9AM" would be ungrammatical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 1 '17 at 13:40

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