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Jul 11

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CONFUSING WORDS: Speak vs. Talk

SPEAK and TALK are almost synonymous and are generally interchangeable except in fixed expressions.

Remember that the verb speak tends to be used in more formal or one-sided situations. Unfortunately, there is no simple or easy rule to follow. But there are a number of fixed expressions for both verbs.

 

Always use SPEAK in these fixed expressions:

  •     Speak a language—(e.g. French, English, etc.)
  •     Speak for someone—voice what another person thinks
  •     Speak now or forever hold your peace—this is your last chance to say something
  •     Speak your mind—say what you really think
  •     Speak out (about something)—voice your opinion (on a subject)
  •     Speak up—raise your voice
  •     Speak up for someone—voice support for a person
  •     Speak volumes—convey lots of information
  •     Speak well of someone—say only positive things about that person
  •     this Speak for itself—requires no explanation

 

Always use TALK in these fixed expressions:

  •     Money talks—money can get things done
  •     Talk away—talk a great deal
  •     Talk back—answer rudely or disrespectfully
  •     Talk down to someone—be condescending towards a person
  •     Talk shop—talk about your job, using jargon
  •     Talk the talk—say things and make promises to please others
  •     Talk things over—discuss something
  •     Talk tough—speak in a brash or threatening manner
  •     Talk through your hat (or talk nonsense)—say things that make no sense
  •     Talk turkey—speak frankly

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