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  1. He told me of the story.
  2. He told me the story.

Isn't it certain that he said to me the whole story in the 1st unlike in the 2nd?

I think that the main difference between the two sentences might be that it's uncertain whether he said to me the whole story or the part of the story in the 1st unlike he said to me the whole story in the 2nd.

Or, perhaps, is it just the difference of expression even though they convey the same meaning that he said to me the whole story?

The reason I think this way is that I've learnt "of" is used when to indicate something belongs to something.

2

To tell someone something is to to give information to that person; to tell someone of something is to give information about something to that person. In (1) he said that there was a story, that a story existed; in (2) he said the whole story to you.

Tell of
Tell

  • Can we think there's something implied or omitted between "me" and "the story" as in "He told me (something) of the story" ? – SinK Dec 18 '18 at 17:47
  • To say he told you of the story" could possibly mean that he told you part of the story (something of the story, a summary), or it could mean that he told you merely that there was a story, without giving any details at all. – Michael Harvey Dec 18 '18 at 17:54
  • Is that to say we could think there's something implied or omitted between "you" and "of". I'm not sure. Would you please confirm whether it's correct or not to think so? – SinK Dec 18 '18 at 17:57
  • To "tell of" is a phrasal verb meaning to give information about something. Nothing is omitted or implied between "you" and "of", and if something is required to be inserted then native speakers will insert it. – Michael Harvey Dec 18 '18 at 18:30
  • If I tell you of a car crash, it could mean anything from the mere fact that it had happened - I say "There has been a crash", all the way to a complete description of the whole event. However, you chose to use "a story" as your example, which introduces a problem. To tell a story is to provide the whole story. To tell of a story is to tell something (small, or extensive) about the story, which could range from the mere fact that there is a story, via a summary, all the way to a complete and minute description of the story. – Michael Harvey Dec 19 '18 at 7:16
1

"He told me the story" is a narration involving characters, setting and plot, even if it's not a novel or movie but what happened to someone in real life. Unless it's the idiom meaning, he filled me in on all the details I or we need to know.

"He told me of the story" implies a 'meta' level, some details about and around the story like when it was heard or created, for what medium, for whom etc. Perhaps also some of the story itself, but I would expect a summary or précis.

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