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Hi everybody, my name is Alisha. Today I'm going to "talk" about the difference between "speak" and "talk," two commonly confused verbs. So, let's get started!
Okay, the first verb I want to talk about is the verb "talk." we use "talk" in casual speech in everyday conversations, if you want to talk about a simple topic or a casual discussion with friends, or you just want to report a conversation that happened, or a discussion that happened, you can use "talk" to explain this simply and casually. In most everyday conversations, I use "talk," you'll hear "talk" a lot when you are listening to conversations about discussions on the phone, we use it to explain phone conversations a lot ,we use it to explain simple meetings with people, friendly interactions over coffee, for example. "Talk" is used in most everyday situation. So if you're reporting on something that's pretty casual, you should use the word "talk" to explain that. Also, if the person you are talking to is not someone who you have a professional relationship with, it's pretty good to use "talk" in that case; if you use "speak," you might sound a little too formal, we're going to talk about this in just a moment, though. So please try to keep in mind that "talk" should be used in everyday conversations to report everyday conversations, and in more casual situations.
Okay we can also use "talk," the verb "talk" with "to" or "with." By this I mean we can say, I want to "talk" to someone, or I want to "talk" with someone. These are, for me, very very similar, we use them in very similar ways. If you want to be extremely specific, I would say that perhaps there is a small nuance of a difference between "talk to" and "talk with." If I say I want to "talk to" someone, maybe, it could be a more one-sided conversation, like, I want to talk to my friend; I expect my friend is going to talk to me as well. But I feel like that has a little more of a one-sided conversation feel than using "talk with," if I say, I want to talk with my friend, I want to talk with you, about it, "with," to me, sounds a little bit more like doing something together with someone else. So again, this is a very very small difference and perhaps this is just my style and how I like to use these words, but for the most part we can use them interchangeably, we can use them in the same way and you're not going to really have any communication problems depending on the words you choose. But just for your information, this is how I sometimes use "to" and "with" with the verb "talk," and with "speak," too, as I'll explain later.
Okay, finally, about conjugations for the verb "talk." To make the past tense of the verb "talk," talk isโ€ฆ I'm sorry, start again.
Okay, finally, about conjugations with the verb "talk." To conjugate the verb "talk" into the past tense and the past participle, we simply add ED to the end of the verb. So "talk" becomes "talked;" this makes past tense and past participle. So a very easy conjugation for the verb "talk."
So we're going to use this in some example sentences later, let's take a look though at the verb "speak."
Okay, so we talked about how the verb "talk" is used in more casual situations, everyday conversations, everyday discussions. "Speak," however, is used in more formal situations. If you want to create a more formal nuance or to have a more formal tone when you speak with someone, use the verb "speak." So I just used the verb "speak" to sound a little bit more formal in this explanation, for example. If you would like to sound a little more formal, try using the verb "speak" instead of the verb "talk." This is really useful in business situations, at work, you can use this in business emails, as well, or in any kind of writing where you would like to sound a little more formal. This is more polite than, as you might have guessed so, "talk" has a more casual nuance, "speak" has a more formal nuance about it.
As with "talk," we can use this with "to" or "with," so "speak to" someone or "speak with" someone. I want to speak to my boss. I want to speak with my boss. Like I talked about, with "talk," we can use the two pretty much in the same way, very very similarly, I would say there's a very small nuance again. "Talk to" might sound a little bit more one-sided, one person is reporting information, perhaps, and "with" perhaps sounds more like an exchange of information. But again, this is a very small difference in perhaps just a way that I think about how to use "to" and "with" with these verbs, but you can use them essentially in the same way. "Speak to" or "speak with" someone.
Finally, there's one other key difference between "speak" and "talk," and that is about languages. When you are explaining your language ability, for example, I speak English, I speak Japanese, I don't speak Chinese. We should always use the verb "speak," please don't use the verb "talk" to explain your language abilities.
So a sentence like, I talk French is not correct, please use I speak French. "Speak" is the correct verb to talk about your language abilities or to talk about your inability, as well, so please be careful there.
Lastly, a couple conjugation points about this verb then. So "speak" in the past tense, "speak" is an irregular verb, "speak" becomes "spoke" in the past tense, spoke. So please be careful here, also, to make the past participle form, "speak" becomes "spoken." Have you spoken to someone? I've never spoken with someone. So there are two conjugations we need to consider for today's practice, spoke and spoken, past tense and past participle tense.
Okay, so now that we reviewed a couple points about the difference between "talk" and "speak," let's take a look at a few examples sentences, and maybe we can decide which verb is a better choice in each of these. Okay, first one, he _______ to his manager. Our hint word here is the word "manager," this implies it's a work situation so it's probably a good idea to sound a little more formal, let's use spoke, past tense. He spoke to his manager. Of course, you could say he speaks to his manager, but we don't have much other information here so maybe a simple sentence, he spoke to his manager. Nice.
Let's see, the next one, you should _______ to your parents. So here, we have parents, and also "you should," this kind of gives us the feeling that this sentence is maybe a casual advice situation, so how about "talk," it sounds more casual, so "talk" sounds better. You should talk to your parents. Again, "talk with" your parents is also okay here.
Alright, let's look at the next sentence. Haven't they _______ to you about this? So here, we have "haven't," "have not." a negative form here, haven't they _______ to you about this? In this sentence, there's no clear hint word, is it a casual situation, is it a formal situation? So in a sentence like this, because we don't have enough information about the situation, both "talk" and "speak" are actually okay, but we do need to conjugate the verb correctly, so that it matches this "haven't" at the beginning of the sentence. So we can say, haven't they talked to you? Or, haven't they spoken to you about this? Both are correct in this case. Haven't they talked to you? Haven't they spoken to you? It just changes the level of formality of the sentence.
Okay, let's take a look at the next one. I really wanted to _______ to you. Again, it's a little bit difficult to determine, is this a formal situation or a casual situation? I would guess, I've included the word "really" here, typically "really" is only used in casual situations, or it's better to use a word like "really" in less formal situation, so I think that is a better choice here. I really wanted to talk to you. Hmm, nice.
Alright, next one. She is _______ with clients at the moment. So here the hint is "clients," indicating it's a business situation or a more formal situation, and here we have the grammar "she is," this implies progressive or a continuous grammar sentence, so she's _______ clients gives us the hint it's more formal, let's use "speak," but again, to change it to the progressive form, she's speaking with clients at the moment. It sounds nice.
Okay, let's look at the next sentence then. What were they _______ with that guy about? Okay, so here I've used "with," again, we can use "to" or "with" but I've included "guy" as a hint word here; "guy" sounds a little bit more casual, we use "guy" in, maybe, more casual discussion everyday discussions so we probably want to use "talk" in this case, a more casual choice. Here, we see it's past, what "were" they _______ with that guy about? But we know this should be a past progressive tense sentence, too. What were they, just indicates something continuing, what were they talking with that guy about? What were they talking with that guy about? Great.
Alright, next one. You guys should have _______ about it last week. Again, we see this "you guys," "you guys" implying something more casual. You guys should have, so again, this is probably a sentence where we need to use the verb "talk" because it's a more casual situation. We could use the verb "speak" if you like, but again it's going to sound a little more formal. Here we have "you guys" which sounds casual, so mixing casual and formal might sound a little strange, so therefore, to match our grammar, you guys should have talked about it last week, is the nice sentence here.
Okay, let's look at the last one then. She's never _______ to me. So "she's," this is an interesting contraction, be careful, it's not "she is never," "never" is a big hint here, yeah, we know that "never," we use "never" a lot in present perfect tense sentences, so "she's" here does not mean "she is," instead this is the contracted form of "she has." So here, she has never _______ to me. In this sentence, we don't know if it's a casual or a formal expression so we can choose either verb, so she has never talked to me is correct, or she has never spoken to me, she's never talked to me, she's never spoken to me, both are correct, just depending on the situation and depending on the nuance you would like to communicate, you can choose the better form or the better verb accordingly.
So these are a few cases where we use "speak" and "talk," it might be a good idea to choose one or the other but I would recommend just keep in mind, if you want to sound more formal, please choose the verb "speak," if you want to sound a little more casual, use the verb "talk." In most cases, we will use the verb "talk," but maybe at work it's a good idea to use "speak" instead. Also, don't forget to use "speak" to talk about your language abilities, too.
Okay, so those are a few points about when to use "speak" and "talk."
Thanks very much for watching this episode, and we will see you again soon. Bye!


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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:23 PM
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Hello Gerard,

Thanks for your question. In relation to speaking to your manager it would be fine to use 'talk' - you are generally in touch with your manager often at work so it can move to a less formal 'talk' instead of 'speak' for this reason.

If you ever have any other questions regarding your studies, please let me know.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Saturday at 09:32 PM
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hello Alisha

I don't understand in the first example we use "talk"

speak is more polite and formal than talk.

as the question is about the manager. I thought that speak is better no ??

Have a nice day

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:36 AM
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Hello June,

Thanks for taking the time to write to us! ๐Ÿ˜„

If you were asking your baby what he/she was saying, you would say "What are you saying?" The other examples you had there weren't grammatically correct.

Please feel free to shoot through any more questions you have throughout your studies.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Friday at 11:39 AM
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If I want to know what dose my baby's sound meaning?

Which sentence shoud I use with her?

What are you talking?

What are you saying?

What are you speaking?

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 05:04 PM
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Hi Mukti,

You're welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

If you ever have any questions, please let us know.

Kind regards,


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Mukti Prakash Datta
Wednesday at 07:17 AM
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Sunday at 04:34 PM
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Hi Smb,

Thank you for posting.

Please let us know if you have any questions.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Thursday at 12:46 AM
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You have just hypnotic voice on firm sounds