9

All sentences below are mine.


I think (1), (2) & (3) are correct and mean the same:
(1) If you see mistakes in my text, say them to me please. — correct because "them" refers to "mistakes"
(2) If you see mistakes in my text, say these to me please. — correct because "these" = "these mistakes"
(3) If you see mistakes in my text, say those to me please. — correct because "those" = "those mistakes"

Do you agree?


I think (4) is correct but doesn't mean the same as (1), (2) & (3):
(4) If you see mistakes in my text, say it to me please. — correct because "it" = "that you see them".

That is:
If you see mistakes in my text, say it to me please. = If you see mistakes in my text, say that you see them to me please.

Do you agree?


It seems to me (5) & (6) are correct but I can't understand what "this" and "that" mean:
(5) If you see mistakes in my text, say this to me please. — what does "this" mean?
(6) If you see mistakes in my text, say that to me please. — what does "that" mean?

4
  • 19
    Simpler wordings could be "If you see mistakes in my text, please tell me." or "..., please let me know."
    – dubious
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 14:02
  • You are really asking about what is called deixis and the sample sentences are not very good for that. A better sentence for that would be something like: Those mistakes in my text are not obvious. These mistakes in my text are not obvious.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 17:51
  • 2
    Number 6: "I see mistakes in your text" ... as in that is what that means, say that, that I "see mistakes in your text". Don't enumerate them, just say that I see mistakes.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:18
  • In common use, when having two or more groups/set/classifications/etc of things, "these" usually mean more closely connected to you while "those" usually mean a more distant from you, as in "I want to put these items with those items", don't they. So in casual conversation, the difference between "these mistakes" and "those mistakes" would be ones you already know about (these) vs ones found by someone else or yet to be found (those).
    – simpleuser
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 4:26

8 Answers 8

38

You can't ask the person to 'say the mistakes', because the object of "say" doesn't work that way.

If you use "say" you should use an object like "say what the mistakes are". If you use a pronoun, the pronoun takes the subjective case

If you see any mistakes, please say what they are.

You might consider using another verb like "tell me what they are", or "show me them".

With a verb like "show me" the pronoun would have to be "them". It refers simply to the mistakes mentioned in the sentence.

A pointing pronoun "show me those" would be odd, it would mean "show me the mistakes that you see and don't show me the ones you don't see." That is a strange request.

The singular pronouns would be wrong if they refer to plural "mistakes".

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    I think "those" could be used in the context of a larger conversation. For example, "If I find typos should I let you know?" "No, but if you see any factual errors please show me those." Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 17:24
  • 1
    @KamilDrakari I would probably use "them" instead of "those" in that case. (And maybe re-arrange to "... please show them to me")
    – costrom
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 18:07
  • 2
    @KamilDrakari Yes "those" works in that context, since you want to point to the factual errors and away from the typos.
    – James K
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 18:20
  • 4
    Also, "show them to me" is perhaps more contemporary than "show me them", which I don't hear anyone saying these days. :) Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 20:24
  • What about 'please inform me'?
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 15:33
18

The function of "say" in this context is give information. This means the object of "say" must be information. A mistake by itself isn't information. You can't "say" a mistake, just like you can't "say" a person. The information here is "what the mistake is".

So if you want to use "say" in this context, your sentence looks something like this:

If you see mistakes in my text, please say what they are.

Including "to me" isn't necessary, and is awkward with "say". If you want to include "me", then it's better to use the verb "tell" instead:

If you see mistakes in my text, please tell me.

It's understood from the context to tell you what the mistakes are.

7

I think other answers are correct in that "say" is not a very good verb to use.

The verb that I (while admitting that I am not a native speaker, but have been learning English since childhood) would have used is: point out. "If you see (any) mistakes in my text, please point them out to me."

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    Native speaker, and I had the same thought. Good call.
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 3:10
  • 1
    I did a control/command+f to find an answer that mentioned this because it was my first thought. Good thing that you pointed this out ;) Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 17:33
  • Point them out would work, as would mention them.
    – TRiG
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 15:33
  • You can say "please say so".
    – kaya3
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 22:28
4

Instead of "say", you should probably use another verb, for instance:

If you see mistakes in my text, let me know. (if you want to find out whether there is any mistake in the text.)

If you see mistakes in my text, let me know about (each of) them. (if you want to find out each of them.)

2

(1), (2), and (3) seem grammatically incorrect.

(4) "If you see mistakes in my text, say it to me please" is grammatically correct, where 'it' refers to the seeing of mistakes. But (as already mentioned) this is a weird and unnatural (even tortured) use of English which is most likely to be heard as a mistake. If that is what you want to mean, then "If you see mistakes in my text, please tell me." or "If you see mistakes in my text, let me know please." are better options. If you want the mistakes to be reported, then "If you see mistakes in my text, please tell me what they are" or similar is a better option.

(5) and (6) are grammatically correct, but only meaningful if immediately followed by the thing you want the listener to say to you in the case mistakes are found: "If you see mistakes in my text, say this to me please...'wallaby whiskers'!" or "If you see mistakes in my text, say that to me please [while pointing at some words]."

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    I agree with you about 1-4, but 5 and 6 are semantically correct for the same reason 4 is: "this/that" refers to the seeing of mistakes, just like "it". However, they're still unnatural in the same way.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 21:55
1

Specifically about #5 and #6:

By itself, I think #5 is not correct grammar, in and of itself. You're asking the other person to say something, but not what. A more correct version of #5 would be: "If you see mistakes in my text, say this to me please: I see mistakes."

This way you have told the other person what to say.

To me, #6 is grammatical as is. You are not telling the other person to list the mistakes, you're telling them to say the phrase, "I see mistakes."

As in, if I was the other person, and I saw mistakes in your text, I should tell you exactly that, "I see mistakes in your text."

1

You can use "so":

If you see mistakes in my text, say so to me please.

Slightly more natural would be

If you see mistakes in my text, please say so to me.

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  • 1
    More natural still would be "If you see mistakes in my text, please say so."
    – kaya3
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 22:27
0

Use the verb “tell” instead. “If you see any mistakes please tell me” sounds far better than any of the examples using “say”.

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    As the OP is really asking about these/those/them, maybe your example should be: “If you see any mistakes please tell me (about) them”? Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 20:13
  • ... please mention them to me seems the simplest phrasing to me.
    – TRiG
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 15:32

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