TELL in sign language

How to sign "tell" in American Sign Language (ASL), also "can tell it", "told you so!".

ASL signs for TELL

Meaning: To communicate information, facts, or news to someone in spoken or written words; to express with words.

Pronunciation (sign description): Tip of dominant forefinger in contact with chin, palm in, moves outward in an arc motion down a bit.

Grammar: verb inflection

The base verb TELL can be inflected in agreement with the subject and/or object in a sentence.

Verb inflection: tell me. Gloss: TELL-ME.

Verb inflection: tell them. Gloss: TELL-THEM.

Phrase: can tell it

Meaning: To comprehend, discover, or discern (e.g. I can tell what is wrong.); recognizing the truth (e.g. I can usually tell when someone's lying to me.).

When it comes to the meaning "can identify or recognize", the signer fingerspells the word "tell", not signing it. If signing "tell", it means different, which means "I can inform or communicate".

Synonyms: it's clear; it's obvious; you can see.

Opposite glossed as CANNOT TELL which means you never know; one can't be certain. E.g. "I couldn't tell what they were thinking."

Phrase: told you so!

Pronunciation (sign description): Unlike the "TELL" sign, initial location of the index finger is under the under, not on the chin.

Definition: A phrase used to remind someone that they were already told, warned, or informed that a certain event would happen or something was true.

Plus several other ways of conveying the concept "told you so", such as "see?", "you should have listened to me", "don't say I didn't warn you", etc.


Related signs: INFORM, RECOUNT.


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