Relate, as a synonym of report or tell (Roget's, 3rd ed., section 556.11): What are its usage limits? Can one say

Jane related that there had been a fire?

Just as one says

Jane reported that there had been a fire?

Or is the structure similar to

Jane told of the fire that had burned down the old barn.

Can one therefore say

Jane related of the fire that had burned down the old barn?

I have searched (Google; Random House, Gardner), but I have not been succesful in pinpointing the usage of that meaning of "relate".

  • This site strives to provide well researched, intriguing questions. Take the site tour or have a look at the help center to find out more about good questions. Questions that do not show prior research are considered off-topic. What does your research about relate and usual prepositions it collocates with show? – Helmar Sep 5 '16 at 21:34

The Ngram viewer shows that relate of has so declined in usage compared to relate that that the former is borderline non-idiomatic in modern parlance. (It's even more lopsided than it appears. A brief look through the results shows many false drops for related of.)

A non-scientific sampling of the older usage seems to show that the preposition of is mostly used with the passive voice, and mostly about people. For instance from The Life of Henry Fielding, Esq. by W Watson (1807):

It is related of  him, that having perceived a trunk lying in the yard of an inn, he ordered one of his men, to go and speak with it.

However, it is possible to find active-voice uses with non-personal objects. From Travels through the southern departments of France by A L Millin (1808):

What I have related of the city of Aix, sufficiently attests the tastes of its inhabitants for literature and the arts.

If you relate of events today, you will sound stilted and archaic.

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