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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #117398: Speak or Talk
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Frequent mistakes | Idioms | Synonyms [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Placement test beginners: Check your spelling - Past simple or present perfect - Although / in spite of / despite - Differences between Like and As - Again/ back - FOR and its use - Do or Make? - 13 ways of seeing
    > Double-click on words you don't understand

    Speak or Talk

    When I'm a member of the jury for exams or competitive exams, I hear candidates starting a presentation with "I'm going to talk about Solitude in...", I frown and give up... thinking it's too late   and not the right place to explain the difference between "SPEAK" et "TALK". Here, on this site, we have enough time and I would advise you to start an introduction with "deal with" (or "speak",  according to the context!)




    The different dictionaries tell us that "speak" and "talk" both express ways of saying things, (they're "say words"); therefore, we can only try to find out by ourselves searching many different English grammar books, or "in real life" in order to manage to understand the difference between the verbs, which is quite easy to detect. 


    I) TO SPEAK:   is more formal. It's often used to introduce presentations and lectures. It indicates that the speaker doesn't know you well, personally, that the context is quite formal (work/ exams/ conferences, speeches ...), and that the contents are important

    * You "speak" a foreign language.

    - He speaks English and Chinese quite fluently, and a few words of French. 

    * You "speak" when the focus is on a person uttering sounds (no focus on the contents)

    - He still has difficulties not to look down when he speaks in public. 

    * You speak  on the phone.

    - "May I speak to Mr Patterson, please?" "Yes, speaking!" 

    * "Speak"  is built with TO (or, more formal, with WITH)/ SPEAK= speak OF or speak ABOUT someone/ somebody.

    This verb is used with many different adverbial particles which modify the meaning of the verb. It's also used in idioms



    * Speak+ adverbial particles: 

     To speak to someone about something      
     To speak OF something
     To speak with someone (= more formal)
     To speak up= speak louder
     To speak for someone= for someone's sake
     To speak out= speak frankly
     To speak as + noun ( a doctor/ an architect... )  


    * idioms: 

     To speak one's mind= say what you mean...
     To speak well of/ ill of someone                   

     Roughly/ Broadly/ Generally/ Relatively/ Strictly... speaking  

     To speak out of turn= not all together
     To speak volumes= to be meaningful 
     So to speak, ...= If I may say ... 
     ... no.... to speak of... (an insignificant quantity of)


       Actions speak louder than words... 

              Speak of the devil...


    II) TO TALK :  means  "having a conversation", giving information. It's less formal than "speak"

    * TALK focuses on a speaker, and also on a listener.

    - He was talking to my brother when I arrived. 

    * TALK = discuss. 

    - Would you please stop talking to your friend and listen to what I'm saying? 

    * TALK = uttering words;

    - The baby is just starting to talk ... His baby talk is quite funny... 

    * TALK sense/ nonsense. 

    - She wants me to try to talk some sense into her daughter. I hope I'll succeed. 

    * TALK= gossip 

    - I'm sure the neighbours will talk if you stay here now. 

    * TALK= give information. 

    - Reed refused to talk about his future lecture. He wants to surprise us. 

     What are you talking about?                    
     To talk of doing something 
     Talk out of turn
     To talk dirty
     To talk shop 

     To make small talk  

     To talk someone into doing something 
     To talk someone out of doing something       
     Baby talk
     Pep talk 
     "Talk is cheap" 

    and a few idioms...



          To Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk... = turn words into actions...



                "Talk is cheap!     

              To talk through one's hat           


     Talk out of both sides of one's mouth...                 

                     "Money talks..."             


    There you are!  you're ready for the test, now... and will have a wonderful mark. 


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    English exercise "Speak or Talk" created by here4u with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from here4u]
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    1. After all this work, please, I need a break... Can you stop ? That would be good...
    2. No, Lucy, don’t try to you for a week. What you did was too dangerous and you must understand it.

    3. Your presentation looks and sounds great, but could you , please, we can hardly hear you...
    4. ' Here, I am . Forget about the teacher in me... ' 5. ' No, Brenda! I don’t want you to ... Let him give his side of the story... ' 6. , you owe me one hundred dollars... and I want them back by next Monday.
    7. She has no money , but refuses her family to help her.
    8. As she’s used to , she can’t really be believed and trusted.
    9. ' No need to use now, Lucy, you’re a big girl and must correctly. '
    10. ' Well... Look who’s coming... ... I’m glad I can and tell him what I think about him!



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