Expressions with TELL: 9 Useful Collocations with TELL

Expressions with TELL are commonly used in everyday conversations, whether we are telling a story, giving an order, or simply communicating with others. These expressions are a fundamental part of the English language and are essential for effective communication. In this article, we will explore some common expressions with TELL and how to use them in different situations.

List of Expressions with Tell

  • Tell a joke
  • Tell a lie
  • Tell a secret
  • Tell a story
  • Tell the time
  • Tell the difference
  • Tell someone’s future
  • Tell the truth
  • Tell your name

Expressions with Tell 

Collocations with TELL

Collocations with Tell with Meaning and Examples

Tell a joke

  • Meaning: To share a humorous story or anecdote with the intention of making someone laugh
  • Example: I always tell a joke to my friends when we get together.

Tell a lie

  • Meaning: To intentionally say something that is not true
  • Example: I will not tell a lie to my teacher about my homework.

Tell a secret

  • Meaning: To reveal information that is meant to be kept confidential or private
  • Example: She tells a secret to her best friend every week.

Tell a story

  • Meaning: To reveal information that is meant to be kept confidential or private
  • Example: He always tells a story to his friends about his adventures.

Tell the time

  • Meaning: To read or indicate the time on a clock or watch
  • Example: I can tell the time on a clock.

Tell the difference

  • Meaning: To distinguish or differentiate between two or more things
  • Example: Can you tell the difference between these two colors?

Tell someone’s future

  • Meaning: To predict or forecast what will happen to someone in the future.
  • Example: The fortune teller told me my future and said that I would meet the love of my life next week.

Tell the truth

  • Meaning: To speak honestly and truthfully about something
  • Example: I can tell when someone is lying to me, so please just tell the truth.

Tell your name

  • Meaning: To introduce oneself and provide one’s name to someone else.
  • Example: Excuse me, can you please tell me your name?

Using Collocations with Tell in Sentences

In Formal Writing

In formal writing, it’s essential to maintain clarity and precision. Collocations with “tell” can help us achieve this by expressing specific ideas concisely. Some examples of using collocations with “tell” in formal writing are:

  • Tell the truth: We need to tell the truth about the situation to our stakeholders.
  • Tell the difference: After analyzing the data, we can now tell the difference between the two strategies.
  • Tell a story: In our report, we aim to tell a compelling story about the company’s growth and achievements.

In formal writing, it’s crucial to use collocations that are appropriate for the context. While some collocations may be suitable for certain situations, others may not. Always consider the tone and subject matter when choosing collocations with “tell.”

In Conversational English

In conversational English, collocations with “tell” are often used to create a more natural and engaging flow to our speech. Some examples of using collocations with “tell” in conversational English include:

  • Tell a joke: We were at the party, and Jack started to tell a hilarious joke.
  • Tell someone a piece of your mind: I was so angry that I decided to tell my boss a piece of my mind.
  • Tell a secret: Sarah told me not to tell anyone, but she whispered a secret in my ear.

When using collocations with “tell” in informal conversations, it’s essential to consider the context and choose expressions that match the tone of the discussion. As we become more comfortable with using collocations with “tell” in our everyday speech, our conversations will sound more natural and native-like.

Practice and Exercises

Fill in the blank

  1. He always knows how to ___________ to make people laugh.

Answer: Tell a joke

  1. She ___________ and said she wasn’t the one who broke the vase.

Answer: Told a lie

  1. She trusted him with her ___________, but he told everyone.

Answer: Told a secret

  1. He likes to ___________ about his travels around the world.

Answer: Tell a story

  1. Can you ___________ on your watch what time it is?

Answer: Tell the time

Match the Verbs

Phrasal Verb Meaning
a. Tell the time 1. To distinguish between two or more similar things
b. Tell the difference 2. To read and communicate the current time
c. Tell someone’s future 3. To predict or forecast events that will happen to someone
d. Tell the truth 4. To give your name when asked or introduce yourself
e. Tell your name 5. To provide accurate and honest information


Phrasal Verb Meaning
a 2
b 1
c 3
d 4
e 4

Related Collocation List: