Talk vs. Speak: Commonly Confused Words in English


English language learners often confuse talk and speak. Below you will find common expressions with each verb; talk and speak and example sentences of each expression.  


Speak: (a little more formal)

1. speak to someone

Emily spoke to her boss about the upcoming presentation.

2. speak with someone

I have to speak with Mr. Adams about his delinquent account.

3. speak a language

I speak English and I am also learning to speak Spanish.

4. speak for someone

I would happy to speak for you in court next week.

5. speak up

Can you speak up? I can’t hear you. 

6. speak your mind

I need to speak my mind about what happened in the meeting yesterday.

7. speak out about something

Michelle speaks out about everything at work. She really hates change.

8. speak up for someone

If anyone says something bad about me at the meeting, I hope you speak up for me.

9. speak volumes

Her messy house and unkempt children speak volumes about what type of mother she is.

10. this speaks for itself

The facts speak for themselves. Jonathan is guilty of stealing the million dollars from his grandma.




1. talk back

My sister is always talking back to my mom. She is typical teenager.

2. talk down to someone

The manager of the restaurant is always talking down to the kitchen staff.

3. talk the talk

Elizabeth just graduated from with her MBA last year. She has been really successful. She can sure talk the talk.

4. talk things over

I need to talk things over with my husband. I am not sure what his schedule looks like for next week.

5. talk tough

My teacher is always talking tough but she is not as tough as she seems.

6. talk away

We talked away the long car ride to visit my cousin in Ohio.

7. talk nonsense

My little brother is always talking nonsense. He wants everyone to pay attention to him all the time.  

8. talk big

Adam always talked big. He said he was going to be rich and famous but he never amounted to anything. 

You should now have a better understand of when to use ‘talk’ and ‘speak’ in English. Thank you for reading this post on English Tonight. Have you subscribed to our newsletter? You will get helpful updates and information about what’s going on with English Tonight 2-3 per month. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

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