tell whether or tell someone whether

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jackchow

Senior Member
Hello,
Must "tell" be firstly followed by "someone" or can it be directly followed by the content (clause)? For example:
(1)He always tells me whether my articles are good or not.
(2)He always tells whether my articles are good or not.
Which sounds correct? Both are OK?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It requires the object. The only situation I can think of where it's omitted is 'can't tell whether' (= "can't decide, judge"), as in: You can't tell whether that's his real hair or a wig; I can't tell whether it's going to rain.
     

    Merrit

    Senior Member
    English
    In some of the idiomatic uses of 'tell', the "someone" can be in or out -- sometimes with a drastic change of meaning.

    Can you tell the time?
    Can you tell me the time?

    Tell the truth.
    Tell me the truth.

    He often tells lies.
    He often tells me lies.

    m
     

    Nucleara

    Senior Member
    Hello Merrit: D Could you please let me try interpreting these sentences by what I understand ? Because I think I see some differences between two sentences.

    Can you tell the time? - Sounds to me like a child is asked if he knows how to tell the time.

    Can you tell me the time? - What's the time ?



    Tell the truth. - There could be many people standing around B and a guy asks out B to tell the truth, to let everyone know.

    Tell me the truth. - D is asking B to tell him the truth.


    He often tells lies. - He likes to tell lies to eveyone.

    He often tells me lies. - B is telling C that D often tells her lies.


    Are my interpretation of these sentences correct ?
     
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