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 Answer 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

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