mango asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 3 months ago

When shoud I use "about" after "tell"?

When should I write the preposition "about" after the verb "tell"?

Tell me something.

Tell me the truth.

Tell me about it.

Tell me about what happened.

Just nuance? No rules?

8 Answers

Relevance
  • 3 months ago
    Best answer

    "About" is provoking a broader response.

    Sometimes it is absolutely needed. For example, "Tell me about yourself," or "tell me about your day." Neither "yourself" nor "your day" is a specific piece of information that you can ask for. You can only ask for information about those things.

    Sometimes its is optional e.g., "Tell me about what happened," vs, "Tell me what happened." The meaning is similar but the first invites a more detailed response, whereas the second is more direct, and perhaps urgent in tone. In this instance we could even shorten it to "What happened?", which we couldn't do in the prior examples. Another example could be: " Tell me about why you did that ", " Tell me why you did that", "why did you do that?"

    If you are asking for very specific, exact information, e.g: "Tell me the truth", " Tell me the time"; then "about" wouldn't be appropriate.

  • Anonymous
    3 months ago

    "I would like to tell you about............."

  • 3 months ago

    "Tell me about it" means 'in detail'.

  • 3 months ago

    A: You look upset; tell me what's happened..

    B: A bus reversed into my car this morning.

    A: Oh no! Tell me about it.

    B: Well, I was driving along the High Street and ... [etc etc]

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 3 months ago

    Can you tell me about what happened yesterday? Tell me about it.

  • 3 months ago

    tell me about = give me a lot of info. If someone wryly says "tell me about it" they are saying that they already know; they are being sarcastic. They don't want to to tell them anything, because they know already.

  • 3 months ago

    "about" in this context means "concerning", "in regard to", "connected with", etc.

    So

    for example

    - Tell me what day you will be leaving. (wants to know a specific detail)

    - Tell me about your trip. (wants to know any details you care to provide)

    And that might be a good way to distinguish the two.

    And - yes, just nuance, no rules other than the meaning of "about". Often "about" can be included or excluded without changing the meaning...but sometimes it DOES change the meaning (as I have already showed).

    For example:

    Tell me something.

    Tell me about something.

    (both good, both mean approximately the same thing)

    Tell me the truth.

    Tell me about the truth.

    (both good but very different in meaning, the first asks for the truth itself, the second asks for your perception of the concept "truth")

    Tell me what happened.

    Tell me about what happened.

    (both good, both mean approximately the same thing)

  • 3 months ago

    Tell me about it.

    Tell me something about it.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.