to narrate (a story, etc.) to (someone): [~ + object]He told a story to the children.[~ + object + object]He told the children a story.[no object]The story tells of the legend of King Arthur.
to make known (a fact, news, etc.) to (someone); communicate: [~ + object + object]He told us the news of her death.[~ + object + about/of + object]He told us about her death.[~ + object + (that) clause]He told us that she had died.
to inform (a person) of something:[~ + object + object]He told me his name.
to utter (the truth, etc.); speak: [~ + object (+ to + object)]He wasn't telling the truth to his wife.[~ + object + object]He wasn't telling his wife the truth.
to express (thoughts, feelings, etc.) in words:[~ + object]to tell one's love.
to reveal to others by speaking to them about (something private): [~ + object + object]I just told her a secret.[~ + object (+ to + object)]I told a secret (to my wife).[no object]Will you hate me if I tell?
[not: be + ~-ing] to say or assert positively: [~ (+ object) + clause]I can't tell (you) when inflation will come down.[no object]When will inflation come down? I can't tell yet.
[not: be + ~-ing] to be able to see clearly; distinguish;know: [~ + object]to tell twins apart.[~ + clause]to tell if it is night or day.[no object]:Don't ask me how I know; I can just tell.
to order or command: [~ + object + to + verb]Tell her to stop.[~ + object + (that) clause]I told her (that) she should pull the car over and stop.
to give evidence of (something) to (someone); indicate:[usually not: be + ~ -ing;~ + object + clause]The light on the dashboard tells you if you're driving too fast.
to produce a strong effect:[no object; (~ + on + object)]The strain of his job began to tell on him.
Informal Termstell off, to scold severely: [~ + object + off]It was about time somebody told him off.[~ + off + object]He told off the whole class because no one was handing in assignments.
tell on,[~ + on + object] to tattle on:Don't tell on your sister.
all told, when all have been counted:All told, seventeen planes were shot down.
Idiomstell it like it is,[no object]Informal.]to be blunt and tell the whole truth:Let me tell it like it is: Things are tough and they're going to get tougher.
time will tell,[no object] in time, the facts will be clearly known:She may have the makings of an excellent teacher; time will tell.