Meaning of TELL in English

/ tel; NAmE / verb

( told , told / təʊld; NAmE toʊld/)



tell sb (sth) | tell sth to sb ( of a person ) to give information to sb by speaking or writing :

[ vn , vnn ]

He told the news to everybody he saw.

He told everybody he saw the news.

[ vn ]

Why wasn't I told about the accident?

[ vnn ]

Did she tell you her name?

What did I tell you ? (= you should have listened to my advice)

[ vn ( that )]

They've told us (that) they're not coming.

I kept telling myself (that) everything was OK.

Are you telling me you didn't have any help with this? (= I don't believe what you have said)

[ vn wh- ]

Tell me where you live.

[ vn speech ]

'I'm ready to go now,' he told her.

➡ note at say


( of some writing, an instrument, a sign, etc. ) to give information about sth :

[ vnn ]

The advertisement told us very little about the product.

[ vn wh- ]

This gauge tells you how much fuel you have left.

[ vn ( that )]

The sound of his breathing told her (that) he was asleep.



to express sth in words :

[ vn ]

to tell stories / jokes / lies

Are you sure you're telling the truth ?

[ vn wh- ]

I can't tell you how happy I am.



[ v ] to let sb know a secret :

Promise you won't tell.

'Who are you going out with tonight?' ' That would be telling !' (= it's a secret)



to order or advise sb to do sth :

[ vn to inf ]

He was told to sit down and wait.

There was a sign telling motorists to slow down.

I kept telling myself to keep calm.

[ vnn ]

Do what I tell you.

[ vn ]

Children must do as they're told .

[ vn wh- ]

Don't tell me what to do!

[ vn ( that )]

The doctor told me (that) I should eat less fat.

➡ note at order , say



(not used in the progressive tenses) to know, see or judge sth correctly :

[ v ]

I think he's happy. It's hard to tell .

As far as I can tell , she's enjoying the course.

[ v ( that )]

I could tell (that) he was angry from his expression.

[ v wh- ]

'That's not an original.' 'How can you tell?'

The only way to tell if you like something is by trying it.



tell A from B (not used in the progressive tenses or in the passive) to distinguish one thing or person from another :

[ vn ]

It was hard to tell the difference between the two versions.

Can you tell Tom from his twin brother?

It's difficult to tell them apart .

[ v wh- ]

The kittens look exactly alike—how can you tell which is which ?



[ v ] tell (on sb) to have an effect on sb/sth, especially a bad one :

The strain was beginning to tell on the rescue team.


- all told

- don't tell me

- I / I'll tell you what

- I tell you | I can tell you | I'm telling you

- I told you (so)

- live, etc. to tell the tale

- tell a different story / tale

- tell its own tale / story

- tell me

- tell me about it

- tell me another!

- tell tales (about sth / on sb)

- tell the time

- tell sb where to get off / where they can get off

- tell sb where to put / stick sth | tell sb what they can do with sth

- there's no telling

- to tell (you) the truth

- you can never tell | you never can tell

- you're telling me!

—more at hear , kiss verb , little adjective , thing , time noun , truth


- tell against sb

- tell of sth

- tell sb off (for sth / for doing sth)

- tell on sb



Old English tellan relate, count, estimate , of Germanic origin; related to German zählen reckon, count, erzählen recount, relate, also to tale .

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.