tell ( tells 3rd person present) ( telling present participle) ( told past tense & past participle )
1 verb If you tell someone something, you give them information.
In the evening I returned to tell Phyllis our relationship was over... V n that
I called Andie to tell her how spectacular the stuff looked... V n wh
Claire had made me promise to tell her the truth... V n n
I only told the truth to the press when the single was released as it seemed the perfect time to do it... V n to n
Tell us about your moment on the summit... V n about n
Her voice breaking with emotion, she told him: `It doesn't seem fair'. V with quote
2 verb If you tell something such as a joke, a story, or your personal experiences, you communicate it to other people using speech.
His friends say he was always quick to tell a joke... V n
He told his story to The Sunday Times and produced photographs... V n to n
Will you tell me a story? V n n
3 verb If you tell someone to do something, you order or advise them to do it.
A passer-by told the driver to move his car so that it was not causing an obstruction... V n to-inf
4 verb If you tellyourself something, you put it into words in your own mind because you need to encourage or persuade yourself about something.
`Come on', she told herself... V pron-refl with quote
I told myself I would be satisfied with whatever I could get. V pron-refl that
5 verb If you can tell what is happening or what is true, you are able to judge correctly what is happening or what is true.
no cont, oft with brd-neg
It was already impossible to tell where the bullet had entered... V wh
You can tell he's joking. V that
6 verb If you can tell one thing from another, you are able to recognize the difference between it and other similar things.
no cont, oft with brd-neg
I can't really tell the difference between their policies and ours... V n between pl-n
How do you tell one from another?... V n from n
I had to look twice to tell which was Martinez; they all looked alike. V wh
7 verb If you tell, you reveal or give away a secret.
INFORMAL Many of the children know who they are but are not telling. V
8 verb If facts or events tell you something, they reveal certain information to you through ways other than speech.
The facts tell us that this is not true... V n that
I don't think the unemployment rate ever tells us much about the future... V n amount
The evidence of our eyes tells us a different story... V n n
While most of us feel fairly complacent about the nutrients we're getting from our diets, the facts tell a very different story. V n
9 verb If an unpleasant or tiring experience begins to tell, it begins to have a serious effect.
The pressure began to tell as rain closed in after 20 laps... V
kiss and tell
11 You use as far as I can tell or so far as I could tell to indicate that what you are saying is based on the information you have, but that there may be things you do not know.
as far as one can tell/so far as one can tell phrase
As far as I can tell, Jason is basically a nice guy...
12 You can say `I tell you', `I can tell you', or `I can't tell you' to add emphasis to what you are saying.
I tell you/I can tell you/I can't tell you convention
I tell you this, I will not rest until that day has come..., This little letter gave us a few chuckles, I can tell you...
13 If you say `You never can tell', you mean that the future is always uncertain and it is never possible to know exactly what will happen.
you never can tell convention
You never can tell what life is going to bring you.
14 If someone disagrees with you or refuses to do what you suggest and you are eventually proved to be right, you can say `I told you so'.
I told you so convention
Her parents did not approve of her decision and, if she failed, her mother would say, `I told you so.'
15 You use I'll tell you what or I tell you what to introduce a suggestion or a new topic of conversation.
I'll tell you what/I tell you what convention
I tell you what, I'll bring the water in a separate glass.
to tell the time →
time will tell →
time tell apart phrasal verb If you can tell people or things apart, you are able to recognize the differences between them and can therefore identify each of them. Perhaps it is the almost universal use of flavourings that makes it so hard to tell the products apart. V n P tell off phrasal verb If you tell someone off, you speak to them angrily or seriously because they have done something wrong. He never listened to us when we told him off... V n P I'm always being told off for being so awkward... V n P for n/-ing Dutch police told off two of the gang, aged 10 and 11. V P n (not pron) tell on phrasal verb If you tell on someone, you give information about them to a person in authority, especially if they have done something wrong. INFORMAL Never mind, I won't tell on you... V P n I'll tell my mummy on you. V n P n
If someone who has had a love affair with a famous person tells the story of that affair in public, for example in a newspaper or book, you can refer to this as a kiss-and-tell story. adj ADJ n
...intimate photographs and kiss-and-tell revelations.
tell-tale , telltale
Something that is described as telltale gives away information, often about something bad that would otherwise not be noticed. adj ADJ n
Only occasionally did the telltale redness around his eyes betray the fatigue he was suffering.