Teacher: Who can say the multiplication table from 1 to 10.


Teacher: Who can tell me the multiplication table from 1 to 10.

Which of the two sentences is more appropriate for a teacher to use in a classroom?

Thank you.

2 Answers 2


If you're trying to find the difference between tell and say by using this example, see: What is the difference between “say” and “tell”?.

However, if you really are specifically interested in this scenario, then of the two choices, say is better tell me* is better:

Teacher: Who can tell me the multiplication table from 1 to 10.

*I misread the original as say the and tell the.
As the linked post suggests, the basic patterns are say something and tell someone. Both choices are grammatically correct, but idiomatically, we don’t say the multiplication table.

Since children are taught to memorize the times tables and then repeat them from memory, a good alternative is recite:

Teacher: Who can recite the multiplication table from 1 to 10?

(Also, question mark.)

Here are a couple of relevant dictionary entries:


  • recite
    verb (used with object), re·cit·ed, re·cit·ing.
    to repeat the words of, as from memory, especially in a formal manner:
    to recite a lesson.


  • 3
    Yep - recite is the word I would pick (BrE speaker)
    – Smock
    Oct 17, 2019 at 10:28
  • 1
    I'd go further to emphasise that in the given phrases that neither of the proferred choices are likely: 'recite' is the most likely.
    – charmer
    Oct 17, 2019 at 13:52
  • 3
    Furthermore, none of these are likely to be said. : 'Who knows their multiplication tables from 1~10' (everyone raises their hand). Their tables; it's never 'the'.
    – Mazura
    Oct 17, 2019 at 13:55
  • @Mazura I disagree - these tables belong to everyone, not to a particular person, so I would regard 'the' as more normal usage than 'their'.
    – MikeB
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:36
  • 1
    Speaking from American English experience, "Who can tell me..." or "Can anyone tell me..." are common, almost idiomatic, ways to ask a group of people a question. "Who can say..." does not seem natural for this scenario. Oct 17, 2019 at 17:33

I think the second is most appropriate to be said to students by a teacher. 'Tell' means 'Who can prove their knowledge of multiplication to me'. 'Say' or 'recite' just means 'Who can mindlessly parrot multiplication tables into space'.

  • I agree with the second part of this answer regarding recitation, but not the first. In BrE there is no significant distinction between "tell" and "say" in this sort of context. One might say "tell me how to.." or "say what you did during the holidays" - same basic syntax, same basic meaning.
    – MikeB
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:39
  • Not the same, because one asks for a direct communication, the other is requesting a broadcast.
    – Efter 90
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:45
  • In some cases, that is true, but it is not accurate in the example that I gave, nor does it detract from my overall argument - "Tell" on its own does NOT mean "prove".
    – MikeB
    Oct 17, 2019 at 16:01
  • The first is definitely more appropriate: multiplication tables are meant to be learnt by heart, and mindlessly parroted into space.
    – TonyK
    Oct 17, 2019 at 18:10

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