Meaning of “tell” - Learner’s Dictionary


verb us uk /tel/ past tense and past participle told
SAY [ T ]

A1 to say something to someone, usually giving them information:

He told me about his new school.
[ + (that) ] Sally told me that the play didn't start until 9 o'clock.
[ + question word ] Can you tell me what time the next bus leaves?

More examples

tell sb to do sth

A2 to order someone to do something:

I told you to stay here.
I keep telling her not to leave her clothes on the floor.
can tell

B2 to know or recognize something from what you hear, see, etc:

[ + (that) ] You could tell that he was tired.
[ + question word ] You can never tell whether Hajime's being serious or not.
I can't tell the difference between them.

B2 If something tells you something, it gives you information:

What does the survey tell us about the lives of teenagers?
(I'll) tell you what

used to suggest a plan:

Tell you what, let's go swimming and then get a pizza.

to have a bad effect on someone:

The worry of the last few months was starting to tell on him.
(I) told you so! informal

used when someone has caused problems for themselves by doing something that you told them not to

→ See also tell sb's fortune

(Definition of “tell” from the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)