Difference Between Speak and Talk

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: June 06, 2023


Difference Between Speak and Talk

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The verbs speak and talk are words that we incorrectly use often. There are many words that we use interchangeably, but they are not meant to be this way. Speak and talk are also two words from that group. It is very common to face difficulty and confusion between these two words. These words are not poles apart but consist of a very small but significant distinction. Both words are used in verbal communication and are verbs. The often confused words can be simply understood by keeping some important points in our minds.

As we now know that these words are not meant to be used interchangeably, the question is how they are used. Speak is generally used for formal presentations and lectures, whereas talk is used for more informal conversations. If we say that Professor Mohan Singh will speak in the context of the rise of globalization, then the term "speak" is the most suitable to be used, but when we say that Aman is going to talk about the financial plans, then the term "talk" is the most appropriate to be used.

"speak" vs "talk"

When we discussed the differences between speaking and talking, we must consider that speaking usually focuses only on the person who is the producer of the words or the one producing the words. For example, X speaks about the benefits of exercising daily and taking a protein-rich diet. But the term "talk" focuses on more than one person, which entails the speaker and at least one listener, so it can be considered a conversation. As an illustration, were I to have the opportunity to encounter you face-to-face at some point in time and engage in conversation with regards to my individual aspirations as well as future stratagems for our enterprise… The illustration offered presents a justifiable perception of how the rudimentary differentiation between these two entities can be discerned

Difference Between Speak and Talk in Tabular Form

Parameters for comparisonSpeakTalk
Use of Speak and talkUse of Speak and talk The term "speak" has its use more in cases of formal speech or presentation, so it is popular in formal use generally. That's why more formal. For instance, "A" has to speak on climate change tomorrowWhen we have to refer to a casual conversation, we use the word "talk." For instance, we can say it this way: "I was talking with Subhash about the last movie we enjoyed together."
Noun vs. verbSince speak involves the use of speech, it is exclusively utilized as a verbOn the other hand, Talk refers to communicating ideas and opinions; however, this term can function in both verbal and nominal capacities within a sentence structure.
MeaningThe word "speak" is a verb that we use whenever we are referring to some complicated and sophisticated contextTalk is a word that we use to convey any type of thought, emotion, feeling, or view. So it is suitable for any kind of communication.
Type of verbOut of the regular and irregular forms of verbs, speak takes the irregular form, as its three forms are speak, spoke, and spoken.Out of the regular and irregular verbs, "talk" is a regular verb.
CommunicationSpeak is predominantly used in both one-way communications as well as two-way communication, as one can speak on any topic in a large conference hall full of audience members.Talk is predominantly used in two-way forms of communication as it involves the other person's participation as well.
FocusWhen we use the term "speak," the focus is on the individual who produces the words.In the instance of a talk, the focus is not only on the one who is the speaker but also on at least one listener.
StressWe don't use "speak" when we have to put stress on a conversationWhen normal conversation is going on between two people, we usually use the word "talk."
number of personsIt may be used when someone is giving a lecture.It requires two people.
transitive vs. intransitiveThe term "speak" can be both a transitive as well as an intransitive verb because it can be used without any direct object.However, "talk" is an intransitive verb in the general scenario, as it does not use any direct object.
ExampleSome examples of speaking are: "Can't you speak loudly?" Why are these boys talking? My mother spoke to me about my performance in the final game. For the first time, he spoke to me about the tragedy he faced.You speak more than you can perform. Don't talk back. I want to talk to Sunita. He hardly talks to me while eating, etc. are examples of talk.

What is "speak"?

The word "speak" is a verb and is used to talk about some action where the focus is on the person who is producing the words. This word is mostly used in the context of a formal message to be conveyed. We can also say that we formally use "speak" when addressing someone or giving a lecture in front of a larger audience. This could be a one-way as well as two-way communication, which means other persons may or may not be involved in the conversation. So there may be only speakers speaking and others only listening. The words speak and talk both have the same sort of meaning, but they are slightly different due to certain conditions that can be:

The first is that it is more formal in use, whereas the second condition can be that the speaker doesn't know the listeners very well due to the large number of listeners. The third condition is that the thoughts to be conveyed are related to the official work or that the person who has to say something is very serious and conveys something important.

There are some examples where speaking is always used, and we must observe it.

Such as, whenever we refer to any language, the verb "speak" will be used. As if we have to say how many languages the foreign minister can speak. We will never refer to it as "How many languages does the foreign minister talk" (Not appropriate), we will say that I can speak four languages. We will never use "talk" here (I can talk four languages, which is incorrect).

There is one more evident error that we make usually.

On phone calls, using "talk" instead of "speak" is incorrect. It can also be understood with an example:

If I say hello, am I talking to Subhash, then the reply should be "Who's speaking" instead of "Who's talking." Also, if we are asking for someone on the call, such as, "Is Mr. Harish available, may I speak to him?" (correct), but if we use "talk here," as in "Hello, can I talk to Mr. Rohit?" it would be incorrect.

What is talk?

Unlike speak, talk can be used as both a noun and a verb. If we say he was once the talk of the day, here the talk is used as a noun, but if you say something like "Can I talk to him on your behalf if you are comfortable," you will see the use of talk as a verb. It is used in an active conversation in which all the parties are talking and the communication is casual or informal, such as when I say I was discussing with him his accident.

When we use talk, the stress or focus is on both the speaker and at least one listener.

Certain conditions can help identify the use of "talk." These conditions are when communicating is more informal and you know the speaker because he may be your friend. One more condition is when you don't know the speaker very well but you have to discuss something informal.

It should also be considered that we usually don’t use talk when referring to any foreign languages:

Saying I can talk French and Spanish is wrong; it should be that I can speak French and Spanish.

Even after various distinctions, we often confuse these. So one simple way of understanding how these words are different is to understand them fundamentally by their meaning. Speaking refers to saying something, and talking refers to when someone informs someone of something.

With the points discussed below, we can understand the various uses of talk.

  • When simply speaking to someone

a teacher saw me when I was talking with Mukesh.

Whoever you are talking to,

  • When to focus on something significant

My latest novel talks about the importance of happiness in life.

  • To discuss the future lectures

We will be talking next lecture on our history

  • In case of a rumor

As per the sources, there is talk of an auction going on.

The main difference between speaking and talking (in points)

  • The "talk" is a verb and it means to interact with people verbally to convey information, and views and to share views.   So, it is to converse. Whereas, the verb "speak" means to exchange opinions, views, and feelings in general to address the audience.
  • Talk has its significance when we are trying to start a conversation. It entails a proper conversation where two-way communication takes place and one person expresses his thoughts and the other person replies to those. The word "speak" is a popular word used mostly for one-way communication, i.e., when one person conveys his thoughts to a large number of people where simultaneous replies are not involved.
  • Speak and talk have a common element, which is that both are verbs and signify an act of doing something, but one thing to remember is that talk can be used as a noun also.
  • On the ground of grammar, "speak" can be both a transitive verb and an intransitive verb, but "talk" is an intransitive verb.
  • Speak can be used when there is a single person in a hall addressing a large number of audience members, or it can also be a two-way form of communication but talk generally involves two persons.
  • Speaking focuses more on the person who is expressing the idea or conveying the thought, whereas the term "focus" focuses on both the listener and the speaker.
  • Another distinction that can be observed is how many people are talking. In scenarios involving multiple individuals conversing, the dialogue is evident within their respective verbalized expressions. Conversely, in circumstances where a solitary individual transmits crucial information, said communication can be gleaned from the arrangement of linguistic units comprising sentences.
  • Examples of speak and talk could be Prof. Wilson will speak on the region's geographical composition. Kyle is set to talk about the software's usefulness whereas Jessica will make a discussion on the techniques to market


The most undoable part of the process of understanding is to relate it to the situations where it is necessary to make a distinction between speaking and talking, and then sentences are to be formed. To help with this, the article consists of different conditions in which "speak" will be a suitable word, such as when it is a lecture in a conference hall and "talk" is used in two-way communication where the response is expected at the same moment.

We have covered various points, which we hope are enough to give you a better understanding of how speaking is different from talking and you can use it appropriately in the sentences without making any mistakes in presentations while giving any speech, or in daily use. There are certain very obvious points, which are explained with an apt example. But to remember the difference, a few very obvious distinctions can be kept in mind, such as that speak has only its use as a verb, whereas talk can be used as both a verb and a noun, as shown by the example. Speak is more formal in its nature and use, whereas talk is informal in use and can be used to convey immaterial or non-serious ideas


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"Difference Between Speak and Talk." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 19 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-speak-and-talk>.

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