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Use the word "talk" when a person speaks. The words "talk" and "speak" are similar, but they can’t always be used in exactly the same ways:

  • I’d like to talk with you. (I’d like to speak with you.)
  • She wants to talk to a doctor. (She wants to speak to a doctor.)
  • Let’s talk.
  • Would you like to talk about this?
  • The teacher talked to the student about his behavior in class.
  • The student was talked to. (passive voice)
  • Are you talking on the phone?
  • That guy really knows how to talk. (He talks a lot)


They’re talking to each other.

A person who talks a lot is talkative. The word "talkative" is an adjective:

  • Sherry is too talkative in class, so the teacher moved her to a different seat.
  • Ralph isn’t very talkative tonight because of something that happened today at work.

The word "talk" may be used in some unusual ways when it’s used as a noun:

  • The teacher gave the boy a good talking to. (She gave him a verbal reprimand or punishment.)
  • The professor gave a talk on nutrition. (talk = lecture)
  • She gave a good talk.
  • If you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. (If you say your going to do something, you actually have to do it.)
  • That’s just a lot of talk. (People are saying something mean about someone, but it might not be true.)
  • There’s been a lot of talk around the office about Regina and Steve. (talk = gossip)
  • He’s a big talker.
  • He’s all talk and no action.

Note: You can say that a person "knows how to speak English," but don’t say a person "knows how to talk English."


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Date of publication: September 28, 2016



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