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what the difference between talk, tell, speak and say ?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    There is not much difference between "speak" and "talk". Both mean "to make intelligible sounds". Speak does not imply dialog - you can speak before an audience.Talk is used in informal situations for describing a conversation - They talk about their children and the weather. They talk to each other once a week.

    Speak is generally more formal - He spoke with his doctor about the test results. The president spoke to the country about the economy.

    Say is used for quoting speech, especially in a dialog.

    He said "Good morning, how are you?", She said "I am well, thank you".

    "What did he say?"

    Tell is used with an object - He told me a secret. She told me a lie. (We don't use speak, talk or say in this way).
    "Say" is a transitive verb which usually refers to the actual words which have been uttered, for example:

    Steven said "I'm not going to school today."

    "Tell" is a ditransitive verb which is always about giving information to someone else, for example:

    Steven told me he wasn't going to school today.

    "Talk" and "speak" are pretty much the same as each other, although speak is usually used to refer to someone addressing people in public. However, you can give a "speech" or give a "talk" and they mean the same thing.

    Both of these verbs are transitive - they refer to the person receiving the information but without mentioning what that information is. For example, you could have:

    "Steven spoke to me" or "Steven talked to me"

    but you couldn't have:

    "Steven spoke me he wasn't going to school today."

    That doesn't make sense. In order to use this, you'd need to qualify it with another verb or different phrase, for example:

    "Steven spoke to me ABOUT not going to school today."


    "Steven spoke to me, saying that he wasn't going to school."

    Speak can also refer to a language, for example:

    "Steven speaks Spanish."

    whereas "Steven talks Spanish" would generally be considered wrong.

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