Talk to VS talk with <em>A lot of students ask me about the difference between talk to and talk with.


The answer is that there’s essentially <em>NO</em> difference when two people are having a conversation, and both of them are speaking. You can say “<em>Sue is talking to John</em>” or “<em>Sue is talking with John</em>” – they’re the same!

Some people claim that <em>talk to</em> should be used when it’s only one person speaking, and <em>talk with </em>should be used when it’s more of a two-sided discussion.

However, in practice, many native speakers use both interchangeably. Here are some examples.

<em>•</em> Can I talk to you for a minute?

= Can I talk with you for a minute?

<em>• </em>Brian’s over there, talking to Matt.

= Brian’s over there, talking with Matt.

<em>• </em>I talked to my boss and she said I could take a day off.

= I talked with my boss and she said I could take a day off.

May 8, 2018 3:21 AM
Comments · 4

I don't deny that many native English speakers make no distinction between talking to and talking with.  Many people do, however.

You can also see the difference between to and with when using a few other verbs:

I threw the ball to my nephew.

I threw the ball with my nephew.

May 8, 2018

There is a difference if you are talking with your pet, however.  If I am talking to my cat, I am not having a conversation with my cat.  If I am talking with my cat, it implies that the cat is answering my questions:

Talking to my cat:

Me:  Hello, Snowball!  How was your day?

Cat:  Meow.

Talking with my cat:

Me:  Hello, Snowball!  How was your day?

Cat:  How do you think my day was?  It's totally boring sitting at home all day while you go out and have fun!

Also, remember Moses speaking to the rock in the wilderness?  Notice the difference between speaking to the rock and speaking with the rock.

May 8, 2018
Thanks a lot Mars! I was just wondering about this Problem yesterday.
May 8, 2018

I agree with you, Mars. 

If the conversation is a two-way exchange,  there is no difference between 'talking to John' and 'talking with John'.

May 8, 2018
Language Skills
Arabic, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
Learning Language
Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai