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past tense & past participle told
American English: /tɛl/
British English: /tɛl/

Translation of tell in Spanish:

transitive verb

  • 1 (inform, reveal) to tell somebody the truth/a lie
    decirle la verdad/una mentira a alguien
    as I was telling you
    como te estaba or iba diciendo
    I don't know how to tell you this but …
    no sé cómo decírtelo, pero …
    don't tell me, let me guess
    no me lo digas, a ver si adivino
    I've been told that …
    me han dicho que …
    he was told that …
    le dijeron que …
    could you tell me the way to the station?
    ¿me podría decir or indicar cómo se llega a la estación?
    I'll tell him you are here
    le diré que ha llegado
    I'll tell him what happened
    le diré or contaré qué pasó
    tell me when you've finished
    dime or avísame cuando hayas terminado
    I am pleased to be able to tell you that … (in letters)
    me complace comunicarle or informarle que …
    it's not easy, let me tell you
    no es fácil, te lo aseguro or garantizo
    I tell you what: why don't we write to her? [colloquial]
    se me ocurre una idea: ¿por qué no le escribimos?
    you're telling me! [colloquial]
    ¡me lo vas a decir a mí!
    she won't be told
    no le hace caso a nadie
    no hay quien la haga entrar en razón
    I told you so!
    ¿no te lo dije?
    I can't tell you how relieved I am!
    ¡no te imaginas el alivio que siento!
    Example sentences
    • In other words, telling the plain truth probably would have been sufficient.
    • Dad was still telling me how proud he was of me.
    • One doctor told the conference he sees 50 patients a day.
    Example sentences
    • Within families a lot happens on the periphery and the most telling details are often seen out of the corner of one's eye.
    • Lauren relates her story in a simple time sequence and gives telling details which make the narration gripping.
    • However, a more telling statistic would be loss and damage rate per 1,000 weapons passes.
  • 2 (recount, relate)
    tell me a story he tells it like it is [colloquial]
    cuenta or dice las cosas como son
    the poem tells how …
    el poema cuenta cómo …
    el poema narra cómo … [formal]
    el poema relata cómo … [formal]
    to tell somebody about somebody/somethingshe's told me all about you
    me ha hablado mucho de ti
    tell us about Lima
    cuéntanos cómo es Lima ( or qué tal te fue en Lima etc. )
    have you told him about us?
    ¿le has contado lo nuestro?
    Example sentences
    • Global stars they may be, but they created a warm, homely atmosphere, joking and telling stories about their family.
    • Another way of using language to cheer someone up is by telling stories and jokes.
    • He was telling stories and jokes and had the attention of us all as he was pretty good at it.
  • 3 (instruct, warn) do as or what you're told
    haz lo que se te dice
    I won't tell you again
    no te lo voy a volver a repetir
    no-one told me what to do
    nadie me dijo qué or lo que tenía que hacer
    to tell somebody to + infinitive
    decirle a alguien que + subjunctive
    tell them to come in
    diles que pasen
    she told me to be quiet
    me dijo que me callara
    I told you not to do that!
    ¡te dije que no hicieras eso!
    Example sentences
    • With a standing order, you tell your bank to pay a fixed sum at a regular interval to an organisation or individual.
    • The jury normally receives an order from the court telling it to accept the laws as they are.
    • The same lawyers told him to bring charges to a civil court and the sports court of arbitrage.
  • 4 4.1 (ascertain, know) it's difficult to tell her age
    es difícil calcularle la edad
    I can't tell the exact width
    no sabría decir qué ancho tiene exactamente
    I could tell from her voice that she was upset
    por la voz me di cuenta de que estaba disgustada
    I can't tell the difference
    yo no veo or no noto ninguna diferencia
    you can tell by their clothes that they're French
    por la ropa se nota que son franceses
    there's no telling what might happen
    no se sabe lo que podría ocurrir
    to be able to tell the time
    saber decir la hora
    4.2 (distinguish)to tell something/somebody (from something/somebody)
    distinguir algo/a alguien (de algo/alguien)
    it's hard to tell one twin from the other
    es difícil distinguir a un mellizo del otro
    you can always tell a Rubens
    un Rubens es fácil de reconocer
    to tell right from wrong
    discriminar entre lo que está bien y lo que está mal
    Example sentences
    • He can't tell the difference between the truth and what his lawyer is telling him.
    • Personally, I can't tell the difference between diamonds and bits of clear broken glass!
    • He's the only person at the bar who can't tell the difference between beer and water.

intransitive verb

  • 1 1.1 (reveal) only he knows the answer and he's not telling
    solo él sabe la respuesta, pero no se la va a decir a nadie
    ah, that would be telling promise you won't tell?
    ¿prometes que no se lo vas a contar or decir a nadie?
    to tell on somebody (to somebody) [colloquial] he told on us to the teacher
    le fue con el chisme or cuento al profesor [colloquial]
    le fue a alcahuetear al profesor (Southern Cone) [colloquial]
    don't tell on us!
    ¡no nos descubras!
    1.2 (relate) [literary]more than words can tell
    más de lo que pueden expresar las palabras
    to tell of something
    hablar de algo
    it tells of great suffering
    habla de grandes sufrimientos
    Example sentences
    • He told the number of girls and officers standing in a line.
    • He told the number of school that they had established, and how they obtained their scholars.
  • 2 (know, work out) who can tell!
    ¡quién sabe!
    you never can tell
    nunca se sabe
    Example sentences
    • She can tell that for once Jason is surprised and she decides that that is a good thing.
    • You can tell that they're starting to like you, that they want to trust you.
    • I can tell that this is going to be one of those long-winded, rambling posts about nothing at all.
  • 3 (count, have an effect) breeding tells
    la buena educación siempre se nota
    he made every punch tell
    hizo contar cada golpe
    his influence told
    su influencia fue decisiva
    her age is beginning to tell
    se le está empezando a notar la edad
    to tell against somebody/something
    obrar en contra de alguien/algo
    to tell on somebody/somethingthe strain is beginning to tell on him
    la tensión lo está empezando a afectar

Phrasal verbs

tell apart

verb + object + adverb
can you tell them apart?
¿los puedes distinguir (el uno del otro)?
¿sabes decir cuál es cuál?

tell off

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
1 (scold) 2 (Military)to tell somebody off for something/to + infinitive
destacar a alguien para algo/+ infinitive
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