speak - talk

speak - talk
Speak and talk have very similar meanings, but there are some differences in the ways in which they are used.
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When you mention that someone is using his or her voice to produce words, you usually say that they are speaking.

He hadn't looked at me once when I was speaking.

`So we won't waste any time,' he said, speaking rapidly.

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However, if two or more people are having a conversation, you usually say that they are talking. You do not say that they `are speaking'.

The old man was sitting near us as we were talking.

They sat in the kitchen drinking and talking.

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used with 'to' and 'with'
If you speak to someone or talk to them, you have a conversation with them.

I saw you speaking to him just now.

I enjoyed talking to Anne.

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Some American speakers say speak with or talk with.

When he spoke with his friends, he told them what had happened.

Mr Bush confirmed that he had talked with Mr Gorbachov.

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When you make a telephone call, you ask if you can speak to someone. You do not ask if you can `talk to' them.

Hello. Could I speak to Sue, please?

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used with 'about'
If you speak about something, you describe it to a group of people, for example in a lecture.

I spoke about my experiences at University.

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In conversation, you can refer to the thing someone is discussing as the thing they are talking about.

You know the book I'm talking about.

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You can refer in a general way to what someone is saying as what they are talking about.

What are you talking about?

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If two or more people are discussing something, you say they are talking about it. You do not say they `are speaking about' it.

The men were talking about some medical problem.

Was it my sister they were talking about?

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You say that someone speaks or can speak a foreign language.

They spoke fluent English.

He does not speak English very well.

How many languages can you speak?

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You do not say that someone `talks' a foreign language.
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You do not use `in' when you are talking about someone's ability to speak a foreign language, and you do not use a continuous tense. For example, if someone is able to speak Dutch, you do not say `She speaks in Dutch' or `She is speaking Dutch'.
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However, if you hear some people talking, you can say `Those people are speaking in Dutch' or `Those people are talking in Dutch'.

She heard two voices talking in French.

Boshoff and Beukes were now speaking in Afrikaans.

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other transitive uses
Speak and talk have some other transitive uses.
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You can speak particular words.

He spoke the words firmly and clearly.

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You cannot `talk' words.
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You can say that someone talks sense or talks nonsense. Similarly, a group of people can talk politics or talk sport.

He was talking sense for once.

Don't talk nonsense.

We used to sit down and talk politics all evening.

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You cannot use speak in any of these ways.
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reflexive use
You can say that a person is talking to himself or herself.

She seemed to be talking to herself.

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You do not say that someone `is speaking to' himself or herself.
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • speak — (v.) O.E. specan, variant of sprecan to speak (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, pp. sprecen), from P.Gmc. *sprekanan (Cf. O.S. sprecan, O.Fris. spreka, M.Du. spreken, O.H.G. sprehhan, Ger. sprechen to speak, O.N. spraki rumor …   Etymology dictionary

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  • Speak to me — Chanson par Pink Floyd extrait de l’album The Dark Side of the Moon Pays  Royaume Uni Sortie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Speak to Me — Песня Pink Floyd с альбома «The Dark Side of the Moon» Выпущена Записана июнь 1972 январь 1973 Жанр Musique concrète …   Википедия

  • speak up — speak out / speak up [v] make one’s position known assert, come out with, declare, have one’s say*, insist, let voice be heard*, make oneself heard, make plain, say loud and clear*, sound off*, speak loudly, speak one’s mind*, stand up for;… …   New thesaurus

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  • Speak — Données clés Réalisation Jessica Sharzer Scénario Laurie Halse Anderson (novel) Jessica Sharzer (screenplay) Annie Young Frisbie (screenplay) Acteurs principaux Kristen Stewart Steve Zahn Sortie 2004 …   Wikipédia en Français

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