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v. told, tell•ing. v.t.
speak say tell
Don't use 'speak' to report what someone says. Don't say, for example, 'He spoke that the doctor had arrived'. Say 'He said that the doctor had arrived'.
If you mention the person who is being spoken to as well as what was said, use tell.
Tell is a common verb which is used in several different ways. Its past form and -ed participle is told.
If someone tells you something, they give you some information. You usually refer to this information by using a that-clause or a wh-clause.
You can sometimes refer to the information that is given by using a noun phrase as the direct object of tell. When the direct object is not a pronoun, you put the indirect object first.
When the direct object is a pronoun, you usually put it first. You put to in front of the indirect object.
When you are referring back to information that has already been mentioned, you use so after tell. For example, you say 'I didn't agree with him and I told him so'. Don't say 'I didn't agree with him and I told him it'.
You say that someone tells a story or a joke.
You can also say that someone makes or cracks a joke.
You say that someone tells a lie.
If someone is not lying, you say that they are telling the truth.
When you use tell to talk about stories, jokes, or lies, the indirect object can go either after the direct object or in front of it.
If you tell someone to do something, you order or instruct them to do it. When tell has this meaning, it is followed by an object and a to-infinitive.
Don't use tell like this without an object. Don't say, for example, 'They told to put on our seat-belts'.
If you can tell what is happening or what is true, you are able to judge correctly what is happening or what is true.
When tell has this meaning, you usually use can, could, or be able to with it.
Inform means the same as tell, but it is more formal, and is used in slightly different ways. You can inform someone of something, or inform someone that something is the case.
In conversation and in less formal writing, you usually use tell.
Past participle: told
|Noun||1.||Tell - a Swiss patriot who lived in the early 14th century and who was renowned for his skill as an archer; according to legend an Austrian governor compelled him to shoot an apple from his son's head with his crossbow (which he did successfully without mishap)|
|Verb||1.||tell - express in words; "He said that he wanted to marry her"; "tell me what is bothering you"; "state your opinion"; "state your name"|
present, lay out, represent - bring forward and present to the mind; "We presented the arguments to him"; "We cannot represent this knowledge to our formal reason"
misstate - state something incorrectly; "You misstated my position"
answer, reply, respond - react verbally; "She didn't want to answer"; "answer the question"; "We answered that we would accept the invitation"
preface, premise, precede, introduce - furnish with a preface or introduction; "She always precedes her lectures with a joke"; "He prefaced his lecture with a critical remark about the institution"
give tongue to, utter, express, verbalise, verbalize - articulate; either verbally or with a cry, shout, or noise; "She expressed her anger"; "He uttered a curse"
say - state as one's opinion or judgement; declare; "I say let's forget this whole business"
get out - express with difficulty; "I managed to get out a few words"
declare - state emphatically and authoritatively; "He declared that he needed more money to carry out the task he was charged with"
declare - make a declaration (of dutiable goods) to a customs official; "Do you have anything to declare?"
note, remark, mention, observe - make mention of; "She observed that his presentation took up too much time"; "They noted that it was a fine day to go sailing"
explain - define; "The committee explained their plan for fund-raising to the Dean"
give - convey or reveal information; "Give one's name"
|2.||tell - let something be known; "Tell them that you will be late"|
digress, divagate, stray, wander - lose clarity or turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument in writing, thinking, or speaking; "She always digresses when telling a story"; "her mind wanders"; "Don't digress when you give a lecture"
inform - impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to; "I informed him of his rights"
bespeak, betoken, indicate, signal, point - be a signal for or a symptom of; "These symptoms indicate a serious illness"; "Her behavior points to a severe neurosis"; "The economic indicators signal that the euro is undervalued"
disclose, let on, divulge, expose, give away, let out, reveal, unwrap, discover, bring out, break - make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret; "The auction house would not disclose the price at which the van Gogh had sold"; "The actress won't reveal how old she is"; "bring out the truth"; "he broke the news to her"; "unwrap the evidence in the murder case"
talk, spill - reveal information; "If you don't oblige me, I'll talk!"; "The former employee spilled all the details"
ingeminate, iterate, reiterate, repeat, restate, retell - to say, state, or perform again; "She kept reiterating her request"
impart, pass on, give, leave - transmit (knowledge or skills); "give a secret to the Russians"; "leave your name and address here"; "impart a new skill to the students"
|3.||tell - narrate or give a detailed account of; "Tell what happened"; "The father told a story to his child"|
inform - impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to; "I informed him of his rights"
relate - give an account of; "The witness related the events"
crack - tell spontaneously; "crack a joke"
yarn - tell or spin a yarn
|4.||tell - give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority; "I said to him to go home"; "She ordered him to do the shopping"; "The mother told the child to get dressed"|
direct - command with authority; "He directed the children to do their homework"
instruct - give instructions or directions for some task; "She instructed the students to work on their pronunciation"
request - ask (a person) to do something; "She asked him to be here at noon"; "I requested that she type the entire manuscript"
send for, call - order, request, or command to come; "She was called into the director's office"; "Call the police!"
warn - ask to go away; "The old man warned the children off his property"
|5.||tell - discern or comprehend; "He could tell that she was unhappy"|
|6.||tell - inform positively and with certainty and confidence; "I tell you that man is a crook!"|
|7.||tell - give evidence; "he was telling on all his former colleague"|
inform - act as an informer; "She had informed on her own parents for years"
|8.||tell - mark as different; "We distinguish several kinds of maple"|
know - be able to distinguish, recognize as being different; "The child knows right from wrong"
identify, place - recognize as being; establish the identity of someone or something; "She identified the man on the 'wanted' poster"
label - distinguish (an element or atom) by using a radioactive isotope or an isotope of unusual mass for tracing through chemical reactions
label - distinguish (as a compound or molecule) by introducing a labeled atom
sex - tell the sex (of young chickens)
individualise, individualize - make or mark or treat as individual; "The sounds were individualized by sharpness and tone"
contrast - put in opposition to show or emphasize differences; "The middle school teacher contrasted her best student's work with that of her weakest student"
contradistinguish - distinguish by contrasting qualities
decouple, dissociate - regard as unconnected; "you must dissociate these two events!"; "decouple our foreign policy from ideology"
demarcate - separate clearly, as if by boundaries
stratify - divide society into social classes or castes; "Income distribution often stratifies a society"
tell[tel] (told (pt, pp))
to tell sb sth → decir algo a algn
to tell sb whether/how/why → decir a algn si/cómo/por qué
to tell sb that → decir a algn que ...
I have been told that → me han dicho que ..., se me ha dicho que ... (frm)
I am pleased to tell you that (frm) → me complace comunicarle que ..., me es grato comunicarle que ...
I tell you it isn't! → ¡te digo que no!
let me tell you, I didn't enjoy it → si te digo la verdad, no me gustó nada
there were three, I tell you, three → había tres, ¿me oyes?, tres
I tell myself it can't be true → digo para mí que no puede ser verdad
I told him about the missing money → le dije lo del dinero que faltaba, le informé acerca del dinero que faltaba (frm)
tell me all about it → cuéntame todo
I'll tell you all about it → te (lo) diré todo
tell me another! → ¡cuéntaselo a tu abuela!
he's no saint, I can tell you! → ¡no es ningún santo, te lo aseguro!
so much happened that I can't begin to tell you → pasaron tantas cosas no sé por dónde empezar a contarte
I cannot tell you how pleased I am → no encuentro palabras para expresarle lo contento que estoy
I could tell you a thing or two about him → hay cosas de él que yo me sé
don't tell me you can't do it! → ¡no me vayas a decir or no me digas que no lo puedes hacer!
to tell sb's fortune, tell sb the future → decir a algn la buenaventura
to tell a lie → mentir
you're telling me! → ¡a quién se lo cuentas!, ¡a mí no me lo vas a contar!
I told you so! → ¡ya lo decía yo!
didn't I tell you so? → ¿no te lo dije ya?
(I) tell you what, let's go now → sabes qué, vámonos ya
I tell you what! → ¡se me ocurre una idea!
see also marine
do as you are told! → ¡haz lo que te digo!
he won't be told → no acepta consejos de nadie, no quiere hacer caso de nadie
I told you not to → te dije que no lo hicieras
to tell sb sth → indicar algo a algn
there was a sign telling us which way to go → una señal nos indicaba el camino
the clock tells the quarter hours → el reloj da los cuartos de hora
I couldn't tell them apart → no sabía distinguirlos
to tell the difference between A and B → distinguir entre A y B
I can't tell the difference → no veo la diferencia
to tell right from wrong → distinguir el bien del mal
see also time A5
you can tell he's a German → se (le) nota que es alemán
you can tell a horse's age by its teeth → la edad de un caballo se sabe por los dientes
how can I tell what she will do? → ¿cómo voy a saber lo que ella hará?
you can't tell much from his letter → su carta nos dice bien poco
I couldn't tell how it was done → no sabía cómo se hizo
there is no telling what he will do → es imposible saber qué va a hacer
the ruins told of a sad history → las ruinas hablaban de una triste historia
"did you love her?" - "more than words can tell" → -¿la amabas? -más de lo que pueda expresar con palabras
it hurt more than words can tell → dolió una barbaridad, dolió lo indecible
I hear tell that → dicen que ...
I hear tell of a disaster → he oído que ha ocurrido una catástrofe
I have never heard tell of it → no he oído nunca hablar de eso
he told on me to my parents → se chivó de mí a mis padres (Sp)
that would be telling! → ¡es un secreto!
how can I tell? → ¿cómo lo voy a saber?, ¿yo qué sé?
I can't tell → (me) es imposible saberlo, no le puedo decir, no sabría decirle
who can tell? → ¿quién sabe?
there is no telling → no se puede saber
you never can tell → nunca se sabe
see also time A1
tell[ˈtɛl] [told] [ˈtəʊld] (pt, pp)
to tell sb sth → dire qch à qn
Did you tell your mother? → Tu l'as dit à ta mère?
I had told her what he had done → Je lui avais dit ce qu'il avait fait.
BUT Je lui avais raconté ce qu'il avait fait.
to tell sb the news → apprendre la nouvelle à qn
They told us the news → Ils nous ont appris la nouvelle.
to tell sb (that) ... → dire à qn que ...
I told him that I was going on holiday → Je lui ai dit que je partais en vacances.
to tell sb about sth [+ place, object, happening] → parler de qch à qn
to tell sb of sth → parler à qn de qch
to tell sb how to do sth → dire à qn comment faire qch, expliquer à qn comment faire qch
I told her how to do it → Je lui ai dit comment faire., Je lui ai expliqué comment faire.
to tell sb why ... → dire à qn pourquoi ..., expliquer à qn pourquoi ...
I told you so → je te l'avais bien dit
I can't tell you how glad I was to leave that place → Tu ne peux pas t'imaginer comme j'étais content de partir de là.
I can't tell you how much we love this city → Tu ne peux pas t'imaginer combien nous aimons cette ville., Tu ne peux pas t'imaginer à quel point nous aimons cette ville.
Will you tell me a story? → Est-ce que tu peux me raconter une histoire?
He told his story to the Sunday Times → Il a raconté son histoire au Sunday Times.
to tell sb to do sth → dire à qn de faire qch
He told me to wait a moment → Il m'a dit d'attendre un instant.
Don't tell me what to do → Tu n'as pas à me dire ce que j'ai à faire.
just do as you're told → fais ce qu'on te dit
to be able to tell what ...
You never can tell what life is going to bring you → On ne peut jamais savoir ce que la vie nous réserve.
I couldn't tell what they were thinking → Je ne savais pas ce qu'ils pensaient.
to be able to tell (that) ...
You can tell he's joking → On voit bien qu'il plaisante.
there's no telling ... → il est impossible de savoir ...
There's no telling what he might do next → Il est impossible de savoir ce qu'il est capable de faire ensuite.
I can't tell the difference between them → Je n'arrive pas à les distinguer.
to tell sth from sth → distinguer qch de qch
She won't tell → Elle ne dira rien à personne.
The pressure began to tell → La pression commença à se faire sentir.
as far as I can tell → autant que je sache, pour autant que je sache, pour autant que je puisse en juger
you never can tell → on ne sait jamais
I can't tell them apart → Je n'arrive pas à les distinguer.
to tell sb off for doing sth → gronder qn pour avoir fait qch
to get told off → se faire gronder
tellpret, ptp <told>
tell[tɛl] (told (pt, pp))
to tell sb sth → dire qc a qn
to tell sb about sth → dire a qn di qc, raccontare qc a qn
I have been told that ... → mi è stato detto che...
I am glad to tell you that ... (frm) → ho il piacere di comunicarle che...
I cannot tell you how pleased I am → non so come esprimere la mia felicità
so much happened that I can't begin to tell you → sono successe tante cose che non saprei da dove incominciare a raccontarti
(I'll) tell you what ... → so io che cosa fare...
I told you so!, didn't I tell you so? → te l'avevo (pur) detto!
I was furious, I can tell you → ti dirò che ero furioso
let me tell you → credimi
you're telling me! (fam) → a me lo dici!, lo vieni a dire a me!
don't tell me you can't do it! → non starmi a raccontare che non sei capace!
tell me another! (fam) → raccontala giusta!
to tell the time → leggere l'ora
can you tell me the time? → puoi dirmi l'ora?
to tell the future/sb's fortune → predire il futuro/il futuro a qn
do as you are told! → fai come ti si dice!
he won't be told → non dà ascolto
there was a sign telling us which way to go → c'era un cartello che ci indicava la strada
how can you tell what he'll do? → come fai a prevedere cosa farà?
there's no telling what may happen → non si può prevedere cosa succederà
you can tell he's unhappy → si vede che è infelice
to tell right from wrong → distinguere il bene dal male
I couldn't tell them apart → non riuscivo a distinguerli
to tell (of) → parlare (di)
more than words can tell → più di quanto non riescano ad esprimere le parole
that would be telling! → non te lo dico!
I can't tell → non saprei dire
who can tell? → chi lo può dire?
there is no telling → non si sa
you never can tell → non si può mai dire