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I am learning "Reported Speech" and a rule says that "tell" has to be followed by an object, except with the expressions "tell the truth, tell a lie..."

Can't we say, "He told me the truth"?

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    "He told me the truth" is fine, as are other variations like "Tell us the truth".
    – nnnnnn
    Apr 29 at 0:40
  • "Tell the truth" does have an object. It has a direct object. The verb is "tell" and the direct object is "the truth." "Tell a lie" likewise does have an object. It has a direct object. The verb is "tell" and the direct object is "a lie." You can even add an indirect object to both of those, like "me," so you can say, "Tell me the truth," or, "Tell the truth to me," and, "Tell me a lie," or, "Tell a lie to me." Apr 29 at 8:48
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it can be used like this. I guess the rule means in the following phrase, you can cross off the object instead of that an object is forbidden: tell a lie, tell the truth... Tell me the truth: tell somebody something. Hope it helps.

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Tell me the truth is an example of a common pattern in English with ditransitive verbs - those that take both a direct and an indirect object.

So

Give the book to me.

and

Give me the book.

are both fully grammatical, and precisely equivalent in meaning. "The book" is the direct object, and "me" the indirect.

Similarly

Show John the letter = Show the letter to John.

This can even be done when the indirect object is a "benefactive", showing whose benefit something is done for:

Peter baked Sally a cake = Peter baked a cake for Sally.

So, in this case

He told me the truth = He told the truth to me.

The truth is the direct object, and me the indirect object.

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