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(past tense & past participle/pasado y participio pasado told)
Pronunciation: /tel/

Translation of tell in Spanish:

transitive verb/verbo transitivo

  • 1 (inform, reveal) decir* to tell sb the truth/a lie decirle* la verdad/una mentira a algn 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/familiar] se me ocurre una idea: ¿por qué no le escribimos? you're telling me! [colloquial/familiar] ¡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) [joke/tale] contar* tell me a story cuéntame un cuento he tells it like it is [colloquial/familiar] cuenta or dice las cosas como son the poem tells how … el poema cuenta or [formal] narra or relata cómo …to tell sb about sb/sth she'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) decir* do as o 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 sb to + infinitive/infinitivo decirle* a algn que + subjunctive/subjuntivo 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 sth/sb (from sth/sb) distinguir* algo/a algn (de algo/algn) 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/verbo intransitivo

  • 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 ah, eso es un secreto promise you won't tell? ¿prometes que no se lo vas a contar or decir a nadie?to tell on sb (to sb) [colloquial/familiar] he told on us to the teacher le fue con el chisme or cuento al profesor [colloquial/familiar], se chivó al profesor (Spain/España) [colloquial/familiar], le fue a alcahuetear al profesor (Southern Cone/Cono Sur) [colloquial/familiar] don't tell on us! ¡no nos descubras! 1.2 (relate) [literary/literario] more than words can tell más de lo que pueden expresar las palabras to tell of sth 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) saber* 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 sb/sth obrar en contra de algn/algoto tell on sb/sth the strain is beginning to tell on him la tensión lo está empezando a afectar

Phrasal verbs

tell apart

verb + object + adverb/verbo + complemento + adverbio
distinguir* 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/verbo + complemento + adverbio, verbo + adverbio + complemento
1.1 (scold) regañar, reñir* (especially Spain/especialmente España) , retar (Southern Cone/Cono Sur) , resondrar (Peru/Perú) , rezongar* (Central America/América Central) (Urug) 1.2 [Military/Militar] to tell sb off for sth/to + infinitive/infinitivo destacar* a algn para algo/+ infinitive/infinitivo

Definition of tell in:

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