Imperative: She said to him "Buy milk"

Infinitive: She told him to buy milk.

Couldn't it have been, She said to him to buy milk

Although said to him doesn't sound ungrammatical, it doesn't sound natural either.

But why?

Why don't I get that strong feeling of command in said to him like I would in direct imperative speech i.e, "Buy Milk"


Although the broad fields of meaning of "say" and "tell partly overlap, they do not completely overlap. The way in which they overlap is in the sense of communicating.

He told her that the car would be expensive to repair


He said to her that the car would be expensive to repair

normally mean exactly the same thing.

However, one sense of "tell" is "order." The verb "say" does not in itself have the connotation of "order" (although context may supply that connotation). However, "tell" does not necessarily mean "order."

To sum up, "tell" is sometimes, but not always, a synonym for "order whereas "say" is not.

  • and in my given sentence buying milk is an order. So it's better to use told here. Right?
    – user88834
    Feb 18 '19 at 14:15
  • Nobody says "Buy Milk" with a capital B and a capital M. Feb 18 '19 at 15:44
  • I did that to put more emphasis 😅
    – user88834
    Feb 18 '19 at 16:41
  • @michaelharvey. But B has to be capital. First word of the quote has to be capitalized when you are quoting the whole text.
    – user88834
    Feb 18 '19 at 16:43
  • OK, I'll let you have the B, but not the M. Feb 18 '19 at 17:24

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