AEE 169: Speak, Talk, Tell and Say in English– How to Use Them Right!

SpeakDo you speak, talk, tell or say in English?

Today, in #14 of our countdown of the Top 15 Fixes in English series, we’ll be discussing how to correctly use the verbs Speak, Talk, Tell and Say, and how to think about them so you don’t mix them up!

Speak, Talk, Tell and Say all mean almost the same thing: to communicate verbally.  But even though they seem to be interchangeable, their meanings are different.  It’s important to use them correctly!

 

 

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To Speak: This is the most formal of these verbs.  A person might say, “May I speak to you?”  Often this verb talks about language, as in “Do you speak English?”

To Talk: This is less formal and usually refers to conversation, such as “Let’s talk about it,” or “Talk to me.”

To Tell: This verb is used to inform or tell a story, but can also be used to command.  A person might say “Tell me what happened,” or “I told you to call me.”

To Say: Usually this verb is used to quote someone or something, as in “What did she say?” or “What did the President say he would do?”

Can you come up with sentences that correctly use all four of these verbs?

Show us what you’ve got in the comments section below!