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