1

I think John tried to tell me something behind his smile.

This advertisement seems to tell us something perverse behind its apparent comicality.

Is this a correct use of the word "behind", associated with the verb "tell"? Does it sound natural?

1

Yes those examples are correct and they do sound natural. Something can be hiding behind something shown. A smile is shown in front that can look friendly, but unfriendly thoughts and feelings can be hidden behind it.

The word under can be used in a similar way.

Macmillan Dictionary:

7 used for stating hidden facts

7a used for saying that someone’s appearance or behaviour hides their real character or feelings
Behind her quiet shy manner there is a passionate spirit.
It was an evil business conducted behind a show of respectability.

7b used for talking about the real facts of a situation that people do not know
Parents are demanding to know the truth behind these disturbing rumours.
the terrible story behind the fur trade

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.