The next word in our vocabulary boost series is TELL. TELL is a high frequency verb that can be used as a synonym of say, recount, repeat, know or make someone do something. There are numerous collocations and phrasal verbs that are formed using TELL.


As recommended in our START method (HERE), you should always learn vocabulary as a short phrase and relate new words to synonyms and use them. Click (HERE) and (HERE) for advice on how to learn more vocabulary and HERE for an example of a great strategy to learn new words.

Tell someone or say to someone – in English the biggest difference between say and tell is the use of the preposition to. Study these examples:

My teacher told me the secret.

My teacher said the secret to me.


Tell someone to do something – obligation

To tell someone to do something is to give an order or a firm instruction, it is to make somebody do something. Study this example:

My boss told me to finish the report by 5pm.



To learn new collocations and word patterns you should create phrases using them and also do exercises (HERE)

As far as I can tell

Tell a story

Tell a tale

Tell a secret

Tell a joke

Tell a lie

Tell an anecdote

Tell the truth

Tell the future

Tell the time

Tell someone your name

Tell the difference between different things

Tell someone the way

Tell your side of the story

Retell an event

Tell it how it is = tell the reality of a situation

Have a tell


Phrasal verbs:

The learning of phrasal verbs is best done using this method (HERE)

Tell (people or things) apart – know the difference

I can´t tell my twin brothers apart

 Tell on someone – grass

My sister pulled my hair so I told on her

Tell off – shout at

My teacher always tells me off when I don´t do my homework

Tell from – differentiate

I can´t tell one brand of cheese from another




To learn how to use TELL you need to practice and put these words and collocations into your own words to be able to remember them.

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