Translation of "tell" - English-Spanish dictionary


verb uk /tel/ us /tel/ past tense and past participle told

A1 to say something to someone, usually giving them information

decir, contar
He told me about his new school.
tell someone to do something

A2 to order someone to do something

decirle a alguien que haga algo
I told you to stay here.
can tell

to know something from what you hear, see, etc.

You could tell that he was tired.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Translation of “tell” from the Cambridge English-Spanish Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)


verb /tel/ (past tense, past participle told /tould/)

to inform or give information to (a person) about (something)

He told the whole story to John
He told John about it.

to order or command; to suggest or warn

decir, mandar
I told him to go away.

to say or express in words

decir, contar
I dont like to telling lies.
He wants to tell us a story.

to distinguish; to see (a difference); to know or decide

ver (la diferencia), distinguir, reconocer
Can you tell the difference between them?
I can’t tell one from the other
You can tell if the meat is cooked by/from the colour.

to give away a secret

contar, revelar
You mustn’t tell or we’ll get into trouble.

to be effective; to be seen to give (good) results

notarse, hacerse notar
Good teaching will always tell.
teller noun

a person who receives or pays out money over the counter at a bank.


a person who tells (stories)

a story-teller.
telling adjective

having a great effect

a telling argument.
tellingly adverb

Tellingly, she avoided mentioning Peter throughout the whole evening.
telltale adjective

giving information (often which a person would not wish to be known)

the telltale signs of guilt.
I told you so

( spoken ) I told or warned you that this would happen, had happened etc, and I was right

(ya) te lo dije
’I told you so, but you wouldn’t believe me.’
tell off phrasal verb

to scold

reñir, regañar, cantar las cuarenta; echar bronca
The teacher used to tell me off for not doing my homework
( telling-offnoun) He gave me a good telling-off.
tell on phrasal verb

to have a bad effect on

Smoking began to tell on his health.

to give information about (a person, usually if they are doing something wrong)

I’m late for work – don’t tell on me!
tell tales

to give away secret or private information about the ( usually wrong) actions of others

chivarse, soplar
You must never tell tales.
tell the time

to (be able to) know what time it is by looking at a clock etc or by any other means

saber/decir la hora
He can tell the time from the position of the sun
Could you tell me the time, please?
there’s no telling

it is impossible to know

no se sabe, vete a saber
There’s no telling what he’ll do!
you never can tell

it is possible

nunca se sabe
It might rain – you never can tell.

(Translation of “tell” from the PASSWORD English-Spanish Dictionary © 2014 K Dictionaries Ltd)