something about "say", "speak", "talk" and "tell"
These words of oral amd written English are all verbs; talk and say are also nouns. The verbs mainly differ in their grammar. Talk and speak are very similar; speak is more formal and less commonly used. I want to (talk)(speak) to/with you after work today. When my father was unhappy with me, he always (talked)(spoke) to me very formally.
What did the guests talk about? (here speak is too formal) How long did the president (talk)(speak)?
Don't (talk)(speak) for more than 20 minutes.
Talk and speak are often followed by words like to, with, about and for. We also say things like '(talk)( speak) slowly and clearly.'
You can say 'speak English'. We don't say 'talk English' unless one means talk about English.
You can not say '(Say)(Tell) English', but you can say 'Say (it)(something) in English.' and 'Tell me something in English.'
Say is very commonly used. What did he say? I didn't understand what he said. Say that again. Say it more slowly. I almost always agree with what he says. The weather man says it will be much colder tomorrow.
Say and tell are more commonly used for written things than talk and speak are. What did John say in his letter? The second chapter of the book will tell us about Napoleon's childhood.
Tell is almost aways immediately followed by a noun or pronoun that serves as a direct or indirect object.
Tell us more about yourself.
Tell (me)(Kate)(the class) what you did on Christmas Day.
I told the police what I saw.
I told my story to anyone who would listen.
When you (speak)(talk) to the students, what will you (say)(say to them)(tell them)? Last edited by 2006; 18-May-2009 at 07:58. Reason: some minor improvements