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tell (things) apart

Meaning: If you can tell things apart, you can see they're not the same by spotting the differences between them.

For example:

  • I couldn't tell the twins apart when they were babies, but I can tell them apart now.

  • I've heard all three recordings of the song, and I can't tell them apart. They all sound the same to me.

Note: Usually used in the negative, as in "I can't tell them apart" or in the interrogative, as in "Can you tell them apart?"

Quick Quiz:

I can't tell the puppies apart. They
  1. don't understand what I'm saying
  2. want to stay together
  3. all look the same to me

Discuss: tell (things) apart

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