Difference Between Speak and Talk

Main Difference – Speak vs Talk

Both speak and talk can be used as synonyms as they have a similar meaning. Both refer to the act of uttering words in order to convey information or express a feeling. Both these words imply that two or more people are having a conversation. However, there is a slight difference between speak and talk based on their formality level.  One can state that the main difference between Speak and Talk is that Speak is considered to be more formal than talk and thus used in polite requests. In this article, we are going to look at this difference between speak and talk.

Speak – Meaning and Usage

Speak refers to uttering words in order to express feelings or offer information. Speak follows the format of,

Speak to someone

I spoke to your mother.

He is speaking to her now.

Speak to someone about something

I spoke to my boss about my promotion.

She is speaking to her neighbor about this issue.

Speak to can be also written as speak with. For instance, I spoke with my mother. However, speak to is more common and accepted than speak with, especially in British English.

Speak is little more formal than talk and is, therefore, more often used in serious and formal situations as well as in polite requests.

I would like to speak to the manager.

Professor Reynolds is going to talk about Renaissance architecture.

In addition, there are some fixed phrases and expressions that always use speak. Here, speak can never be replaced with talk. For example:

Speak your mind: Don’t be afraid, Speak your mind.

Speak a language: She speaks Japanese fluently.

Speak up: We can’t hear you. Speak up!

Main Difference - Speak vs Talk

May I speak to Mr.Adams, please?

Talk – Meaning and Usage

Talk also refers to the usage of voice to express feelings and convey information. Talk follows the format of,

Talk to someone

Eve is talking to Daisy.

Talk to someone about something

I talked to my friend about this new film.

Talk is less formal than speak is therefore used in informal communication.

I want to talk to you.

What on earth are you talking about?

There are some fixed phrases and expressions that always use talk. Here, talk cannot be replaced by other verbs. Some examples include,

Talk sense: He always talks sense, so we all listen to him.

Talk nonsense: He has no real knowledge of the subject; he is talking nonsense.

Talk rubbish: Don’t talk rubbish!

Talk can be also used as a mass noun. As a noun, it can refer to a conversation or an informal lecture.

This film has generated much talk and discussion among the student population.

Difference Between Speak and Talk

The two girls are talking.

Difference Between Speak and Talk

Formality Level

Speak is more formal and is used in formal and serious situations.

Talk is informal and thus used in informal communication.


Speak is only used as a verb.

Talk can be used as a verb as well as a noun.

Verb Type

Speak is an irregular verb. Its past form is spoke and past participle form is spoken.

Talk is a regular verb.Difference Between Speak and Talk - infographic

Though these differences can be observed between speak and talk, they can be used interchangeably in most instances.

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