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Language tip of the week: tell someone about something that has happened

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This week’s tip looks at words and phrases you can use in addition to tell to talk about telling someone about something that has happened.



tell to describe something that happened to someone:
He told me about his childhood. ♦ Residents told how they hid in their cellars when the bombing started. 
describe to say what someone or something is like, especially by giving a lot of details:
He described how he had been forced to leave his family behind. ♦ Could you describe what you saw? ♦ Paramedics described the scene as a battlefield.
give an account of something to give a written or spoken report about something that has happened:
He was too shocked to give a clear account of events. ♦ She gave an amusing account of her travels through rural Spain.
relate or recount to tell someone about something that has happened or what someone has said. Relate and recount are formal and used mainly in written English:
David related how he became aware of the situation. ♦ The tale she related was a shocking and disturbing one. ♦ She recounted her conversation with Sam. ♦ Survivors recounted how the boat hit something and sank.
report to give information about something that exists or has happened:
Supermarkets report a sharp increase in the sales of organic vegetables. ♦ Witnesses reported hearing a loud noise before the plane crashed.
break the news or break it to someone to tell someone about something bad that has happened:
I had to break the news about Dad to my sisters. ♦ When were you planning to break it to her that you were leaving?

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘tell‘.

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Liz Potter

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