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parts of speech:
transitive verb, intransitive verb
tell on, tell time
Word Combinations (verb), Note, Word Explorer, Grammatical Patterns
part of speech: transitive verb
inflections: tells, telling, told
definition 1: to express verbally; relate in spoken or written words.
In her book, the author tells the story of a young orphaned girl.He had told a lie, and now he regretted it.Please tell what happened that day.[verb + WH/whether/if + clause ]
impart, relate
similar words:
bid, communicate, express, narrate, recount, repeat, report, speak, spin, verbalize, write
definition 2: to inform or reveal to (someone) through speaking or writing.
He told me about the accident.They told us of their life before the war.I already know about that because she told me yesterday.She told me that she regretted what happened.[verb + smby + (that) + clause ] I was told that we would be meeting here at one o'clock.[verb + smby + (that) + clause ] Could you tell me how to use this gadget?[verb + smby + WH/whether + infinitive ] Could you tell me where they went?[verb + smby + WH/whether/if + clause ] Please tell me if you find any mistakes.
apprise, inform
similar words:
advise, notify
definition 3: to make known; divulge.
He'll never tell the secret.You'll have to tell me the truth now.[verb + object + object ]
announce, disclose, divulge, reveal
similar words:
give away, impart, leak, repeat, report
definition 4: to command or direct.
She told the children to behave nicely at their grandmother's.[verb + smby/smth + infinitive ] I told the movers to put the piano in the living room.[verb + smby/smth + infinitive ] He told her not to drive home in the snowstorm.[verb + smby/smth + infinitive ] You don't have the authority to tell me what to do.[verb + smby + WH/whether + infinitive ]
command, demand, direct, instruct, order
similar words:
bid, charge, dictate, require
definition 5: to distinguish.
He can't tell the difference between butter and margarine.Can you tell if this meat is still fresh?[verb + WH/whether/if + clause ]
discern, distinguish
similar words:
differentiate, discriminate, know, see
part of speech: intransitive verb
definition 1: to give an account, description, or report.
He told of his travels in South America.
narrate, report
similar words:
recite, speak
definition 2: to give evidence.
Her success tells of her hard work.
definition 3: to reveal a secret or private matter.
I know the secret, but I'm not telling.
confide, talk, unbosom
similar words:
confess, inform, leak, rat
definition 4: to have some pronounced effect or impact (fol. by "on").
Stress tells on her ability to concentrate.
Word CombinationsSubscriber feature About this feature
phrase: tell on, tell time
tell or say?
Say is used to report the words that someone spoke. Tell is used to report an act of communication between people. The emphasis with say is on words. The emphasis with tell is on both the person who receives a message and the message itself.
  • She said that she was sick
  • She told me that she was sick.
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  communication, literature