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Tell On with Reported Speech
Tell On with Reported Speech English, baby! Video Lesson

Learn the English verb "tell on" and how to use reported speech

Date: Dec 21 2010

Themes: Soap Opera

Grammar: Direct vs. Reported Speech


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It’s the worst threat one child on the playground can give another: “I’ll tell on you.”

When you tell on someone, you report him or her to an authority. On the playground, it’s usually a teacher. In adulthood, you might tell on your neighbor by calling her landlord and saying she plays loud music. You might tell on someone in a store by letting the manager know he stole something.

People who get told on generally deserve it. They did something wrong. But that doesn’t mean they like it. Telling on people isn’t a good way to make friends. In fact, it’s usually not the best way to solve a problem. Confronting someone directly, without going to an authority, is often seen as more honorable. But sometimes, when you’re confronting someone, you find yourself saying those ugly words: “I’ll tell on you!”

A couple of weeks ago, Jason threatened to tell on Ella for being a bad employee. Let’s see how that worked out for him.

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1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.







Jason:  Have you noticed that Ella’s been acting a little differently lately?

Beren:  I have! What’s going on?

Jason:  Well, you know, she’s been working a little harder, which is cool…

Beren:  Yeah?

Jason:  But I feel kinda bad, because it seems that she’s totally changed her personality.

Beren:  Mhm?

Jason:  I think it might be because I yelled at her a few days ago.

Beren:  What did you yell at her about?

Jason:  Well, she was making all this noise with a straw. I told her that was the last straw. And that, you know, I was really annoyed with her behavior.

Beren:  OK?

Jason:  And that I was going to report her to Devan. And then I totally told on her.

Beren:  So, you told on Ella? You went straight to her boss and told Devan, the boss, that Ella did something wrong? Without going to Ella first?

Jason:  Yes.

Devan:  This cake is way too dry. Did you buy this?

Jason:  But, in this case, Devan didn’t care.

Beren:  Naturally. Of course, Devan doesn’t care about anything! You told on somebody.

Jason:  I did. I did tell on her. I feel like that’s why Ella’s acting different. Just because I yelled at her, you know?

Beren:  Yeah…I don’t know. You should talk to her.

Jason:  Yeah, I would, but I’m a little afraid to talk to her now, because Mason called me and he yelled at me on the phone!

Beren:  Wait, why was…Ella told Mason, that you told on Ella.

Jason:  Uh-huh.

Beren:  And Mason called and yelled at you.

Jason:  Yes.

Beren:  What do you think he’s gonna do? Kill you?

Jason:  Well, he didn’t say he was going to kill me. But he said that he was really upset, that I shouldn’t be yelling at a coworker, let alone a woman. And so, I’m a little freaked out, I mean…

Beren:  Yeah.

Jason:  It’s a tough spot when you tell on someone. You know what I mean?

Beren:  Yeah.

Jason:  I should never have gotten mixed up in this.


Grammar Point

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Ella, who used to slack off at the office, has suddenly been working harder. It’s because she had a nightmare that scared her straight. But Jason doesn’t know that. He thinks it’s because he yelled at Ella and told on her to Devan.

It turns out that when Jason told on Ella to their boss, Devan, she didn’t care. Still, when Mason heard Jason yelled at Ella and told on her, he called Jason to make him feel bad. It worked. Jason wishes he hadn’t yelled at Ella or told on her.

Have you ever told on someone or been told on? Use what you learned in the grammar point about reported speech to share the story.



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It is pretty hard to tell on someone…But sometimes we have to do it! It is the same thing like “snitching” someone…


12:10 PM Aug 04 2011 |




i hate the man who always tell on others.

04:59 PM Dec 26 2010 |



it doesnt work …..

08:20 PM Dec 21 2010 |



Russian Federation

Yes I've been told on many times. Mostly when I was a kid. And when I was very very little I've told on someone too. Of cause not so often than I've been told on. Actually I think it's more girls and woman habit to tell on someone. In grown up life nobody likes persons who tell on other people.

07:19 PM Dec 21 2010 |



Saudi Arabia

idon like this behavior,and i havenot told on someone

05:13 PM Dec 21 2010 |



I've never told on somebody-maybe I have told on someone when I was a young child. I just thought it is not the best move. I mean, if you are annoyed of somebody or you have a problem with somebody, you can talk to him or her, you should not report to a authority. That's very childish.


03:13 PM Dec 21 2010 |

Michael Koshin


nice episodes the team of guys produce. simply adore them.

03:07 PM Dec 21 2010 |



I never tell on someone, I think that's a very bad personality, even though I'll talk to our boss about problem's done by someone, I like to discuss with my co-worker first, then talk to our boss together. I don't know if I've been told on,  I think the answer is YES, because in the world we have good  and dad guys. that's real world

02:49 PM Dec 21 2010 |


Viet Nam

gud.. if someone maked me annoyed, i woud tell on until that person feel be told on :)) 

02:34 PM Dec 21 2010 |



Viet Nam

I did tell on some people, which is kinda mean but, in return, i got told on too. It seems fair. I hate it when i am told on by the so-called good friends. However, this is gonna happen all the time and i always try to avoid getting mixed up in this.  

07:34 AM Dec 21 2010 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i've been told on but i don't tell on anybodyLaughing

04:12 AM Dec 21 2010 |

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