tell */*/*/


tell */*/*/
UK [tel] / US verb
Word forms "tell":
present tense I/you/we/they tell he/she/it tells present participle telling past tense told UK [təʊld] / US [toʊld] past participle told
Get it right: tell:
Unlike the verb say, the verb tell is usually used with a personal object, which refers to the person who is being told something:
Wrong: We know that what they are telling has already been said many times.
Right: We know that what they are telling us has already been said many times. If you don't want to mention a personal direct object, use say instead:
Wrong: As Rousseau told in his book, humans are good by nature, but society corrupts them.
Right: As Rousseau said in his book, humans are good by nature, but society corrupts them. Don't use the preposition to after tell to introduce the object (the person who is being told something):
Wrong: He told to journalists that he was innocent.
Right: He told journalists that he was innocent. However, in some fixed expressions, tell can be followed by an object which refers to what is being told. The most frequent expressions are: tell a joke, tell a lie, tell a story, tell the time, tell the truth
Tell can also be used with an infinitive to mean "to order someone to do something". Don't use say in this meaning:
Wrong: Who puts women in the kitchen, or says them to do the housework?
Right: Who puts women in the kitchen, or tells them to do the housework?  say
1) [transitive] to give information to someone

If you see anything suspicious, tell the police.

tell someone (that):

Didn't he tell you that I wanted to see you?

The passengers were told their flight was about to depart.

tell someone who/what/why/how etc:

Just tell me what she said.

Were you told when she would be arriving?

tell someone something:

He finally told me the reason why he was so upset.

tell someone (something) about something:

"Tell me about your day," she said.

I haven't been told anything about it.

tell the truth/a lie:

I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

He tells some absolute whoppers (= big lies) sometimes.

a) if you tell a story or a joke, you give someone a spoken account of it

Grandpa tells wonderful stories about the old days.

tell someone something:

Shall I tell you a joke?

b) if something such as a fact, event, or piece of equipment tells you something, it gives or shows you some information

The facts themselves don't tell us much.

Her look of surprise told him that he had guessed right.

The flashing light tells you when the battery needs recharging.

What does this room tell you about the person who lived here?

tell its own story/tale (= give all the information that you need):

His troubled face told its own story.

2) [transitive] to order or strongly advise someone to do something

I'm not asking you – I'm telling you!

tell someone to do something:

I told you to be here on time this morning.

tell someone what/how/when etc:

I told him what to do, but he wouldn't listen.

You will be told where to sit.

do as/what you're told:

Do as you're told this minute!

3)
a) [intransitive/transitive, never progressive] to recognize something as a result of knowledge, experience, or evidence

He's lying. I can always tell.

tell (that):

Peter could tell that she was bored.

tell who/what/whether etc:

It's never easy to tell whether he's being serious or not.

b) to recognize the difference between one person or thing and another

Which is which? I can't tell.

tell something/someone from something/someone:

Can you tell butter from margarine?

They're so alike I can never tell one from the other.

tell the difference (between):

These days it's hard to tell the difference between political parties.

4) [intransitive] to have an effect that can be clearly seen, especially a bad effect
tell on:

These endless business trips are telling on his marriage.

begin/start to tell:

The strain of the last few days was beginning to tell.

5) [intransitive] informal to not keep a secret

You promised you wouldn't tell.

6) [intransitive] to inform someone about something bad that someone else has done
tell on:

She threatened to tell on me.

I can't tell you how/whatspoken used for emphasizing that your feelings about something are very strong

I can't tell you how sorry I am.

I told you (so) — used for saying that you warned someone that something bad would happen and you have now been proved right

I told you it wouldn't work.

See, it broke! I told you so.

I'll tell you something/one thing/another thingspoken used when you are going to make a statement or give your opinion about something

I'll tell you one thing: I wouldn't like to have his job.

(I'll) tell you what — used when you are going to make a suggestion, proposal, or offer

I'll tell you what – let's have the party here.

something tells me (that) — used for saying that you think something is probably true or will probably happen

Something tells me we haven't heard the last of him.

tell me another (one)spoken used for saying to someone that you do not believe what they have just said

"They said I was their best worker." – "Tell me another."

someone tells me (that)spoken used for reporting what someone has said to you

David tells me that you're leaving. Is it true?

tell yourself (that) — to make yourself consider something in order to understand it correctly or to persuade yourself that it is true

I kept telling myself that it would all be over soon.

to tell (you) the truth — used for saying what you really think or feel

To tell you the truth, I'm completely bored.

what did I tell you?spoken used when something happens that you said would happen, often when other people were not so sure

Phrasal verbs:
See:

English dictionary. 2014.