speak to/ with talk to / with

Discussion in 'English Only' started by juliapoz, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. juliapoz Member

    Hello everybody!
    Could anybody tell me if I can say "speak to" and "speak with" and "talk to" and "talk with"?
    What is the most suitable preposition for each verb?
    Thank you very much
  2. virtdave Senior Member

    english, USA
    All four of these can be used, and there's not a great difference between them in most cases. However, if speaking to a group, one would use 'to'--'with' suggests that the person(s) are conversing, not just listening. If you have a specific sentence, post it for furthur comment.
  3. juliapoz Member

    Thanks a lot!
    I've got two sentences. Here is where I have the problem. They are the following:
    Speak _______ me in English. It's good practice for us
    Did you speak __________ the teacher about your homework?
    Thank you very much
  4. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    In this case, it's exactly what was mentioned previously. Speak TO is a one way thing, you are instructing (requesting) the other party to speak to you.

    Speakling WITH the teacher implies a conversation.

    These are somewhat interchangeble, but in general your examples are good for helping understanding.
  5. juliapoz Member

    Thanks a lot!!!
  6. Onimiki New Member

    Hi to all,

    I'd like to bring back this old topic because I have some doubts.

    Are "speak to" and "speak with" related to BE or AE ?

    On the telephone:

    1 Can I speak to Mike ?
    2 Can I speak with Mike ?

    Are 1 and 2 both possible ? Are there some rules ?

    In the first sentence:

    Speak _ TO _ me in English. It's good practice for us.

    can I say:

    Speak _WITH _ me in English. It's good practice for us.

    with the meaning of "Let's have a conversation." ?

    Thanks for your help, Miki.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks for looking at the previous threads, Miki :)
    There are lots of them.

    It seems to me that "speak with" has a strong sense of AE rather than BE.
    BE-speakers tend to use "speak to".
    If I recall correctly, AE-speakers feel that "speak to" is not appropriate for a friendly conversation. It may suggest a teacher or parent "speaking to" a naughty child.

    I'll see if I can find more on this.

    Yes, here is a useful thread ... Speak <with, to>

    (The other threads are listed by the dictionary/thread title lookup at speak to with)
  8. xjm Senior Member

    WI, USA
    English - USA
    Yes, it definitely has that connotation for me. It implies a power dynamic, a contrast of authority/subordinance. (I should note that "Talk to" has no such implication, possibly because it already implies an informal friendliness. Edit: though, I do use/hear "a talk," meaning a scolding of some sort from a boss, teacher, parent, etc.)

    "Don't speak to me like that!"
    The focus is definitely on the one-way nature of the speech.

    "The professor spoke to his students about the paper requirements."

    This has no negative connotation to me and seems most correct. "Talked to" would make it sound like the context was informal; "spoke with" would be acceptable, but imply more a question-and-answer session than a simple set of instructions given.

    "Speak with" would be impossible if the listeners were not actually in the same room (or using two-way communication). In the case of a TV broadcast, radio announcement, webcast, etc. only "speak to" works for me. (E.g.: "The president spoke to the people.") A lecture or rally also has this one-way speech without a negative connotation:
    "The author spoke to a packed auditorium."
    "The candidate spoke to the people gathered for the rally."

    Edit 2: I notice that "address" is always a possible substitution for "speak to," but not for "speak with."

    "Talk with" is less common for me.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  9. Meyer Wolfsheim Senior Member

    East Egg
    To speak with suggests that both parties conversed while to speak to may only suggest that one party actually said anything while the other just listened. The same distinction arises with talk to/talk with and we have an idiomatic expression distinguishing the two:

    Talking to you is like talking to a wall.:tick: The wall simply listens and does not have any input.

    Talking with you is like talking with a wall.:cross: To be talking with a wall means the wall also converses but this makes no sense to be idiomatic.

    I think it is also worth noting that, at least for me, I prefer using 'to speak with/to' in the past tense more often than 'talk.' I always say "I spoke with them yesterday" rather than "I talked with them yesterday" (perhaps my ears prefer the strong verb but this is most likely dialectal).

    However, I think very few if it all any native speakers sub-consciouslly make the to-with distinction with these two verbs so in most cases you will be right no matter which one you choose.
  10. janezhang88

    janezhang88 Senior Member

    Hello,I am from China,and I am confused with two phrases:speak with sb. and talk with sb. or talk to sb. what is the differences between them? thanks in advance.
  11. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Hi, janezhang88. This is something that confuses a lot of people, so I've merged your thread with one of the earlier threads on this topic. Perhaps this will answer your questions, but if not, you're welcome to add additional questions to this thread. :)

    English Only moderator
  12. Oleg68

    Oleg68 Senior Member

    "Talk to me, Mike" or "talk with me, Mike". How it needs to say?
  13. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    Depends on what you mean. The first (to) implies one-way, from Mike to you; the second (with) implies a dialog between you and Mike.
  14. Oleg68

    Oleg68 Senior Member

    I meant a dialog. I got. Thank you so much, MuttQuad!
  15. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Hi, Oleg. This is something that many people have had questions about, so I've merged your thread with one of the existing threads. If you have any more questions, you're welcome to ask them here.

    English Only moderator
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
  16. Oleg68

    Oleg68 Senior Member

    I did not know that it is a very popular question :) I've got another question.
    Now I've been told that "talk with" it's just an americanism. Do you agree?
  17. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    From what I understand (from this thread and others), talk with tends to be AmE, but that doesn't necessarily mean that BE speakers never, ever use it. But you might want to wait and see what actual BE speakers say.

    You can also find lots of other threads by putting talk to with in the search box at the top of the forum. That's how I found this thread, but there were others. Here's another useful one: talk to/with, speak to/with. Some BE speakers in that thread seem to think talk with is sometimes used in BE.
  18. Oleg68

    Oleg68 Senior Member

    I found one thread. English speakers say it in both ways
  19. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    I agree with JustKate, talk/speak with tends to be AE, talk/speak to tends to be BE.
    I personally don't say talk/speak with. For me, it somehow smacks of language interference. In many European languages, you speak with (not to) someone.
  20. AmaryllisBunny

    AmaryllisBunny Senior Member

    I agree and disagree...
    "With" in AmE as aforementioned implies a conversation whereas "to" is more one-directional.

    So, talk to and speak to can both imply a conversation deemed unfriendly.

    E.g. child in trouble:
    I need to speak with you... (tell you what you did and have a conversation about it)
    I need to talk/speak to you... (have a brief talk where I do most of the talking)
    I need to talk with you... (slightly more casual and a conversation of sorts)

    Talk is slightly more casual than speak.

    He is going to speak to us about the difference between AmE and BrE. (give a speech and maybe a bit of our input).
    He is going to speak with us about the difference between AmE and BrE. (give a speech where we are included and can give input)
    He is going to talk to us ... (give a talk and maybe some of our input).
    He is going to talk with us ... (possibility for more exchange and input).
  21. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Neither do I. Consequently I don't imply uni-directionality when I say "talk to" and "speak to".
  22. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I don't think there is a really hard and fast rule about this. "Did you speak to your teacher about your homework assignment" is almost the same as "Did you ask your teacher about ..." and doesn't imply an unfriendly communication at all. "Speak" in general has the implication of a more formal situation - someone giving a speech or a presentation, although 'talk' is also suitable in that situation. And as in Amaryllis's examples, 'speak with' to a child in trouble is not that friendly. At least in AmE, I don't think you can easily generalize to any rules.

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