Difference Between Speak and Talk (With Table)

English has words that confuse people as to which one to utilize at what juncture. Two such phrases are ‘speak’ and ‘talk.’ The difference between them is that speech is used when people talk to a person with whom they share a formal relationship. Whereas talk is used to converse with people, who people are somewhat familiar. There are also several other parameters of differentiating between them, which are mainly different circumstances and how they affect their usage.

Speak vs Talk

The main difference between speak and talk is that the term ‘speak’ refers to the situation when conversing with a person we share a formal relationship with. Whereas the word  ‘talk’ refers to having conversed with a person, who we are familiar. Also, we can generally speak words or sentences without anyone being there to listen to us. But we do need someone to talk to. Two or more people are required for the action of talking.

We can do Speak with people such as higher authorities, bosses, colleagues, and people we haven’t known for a long time. It can also be with people with whom we do not share a bond of friendship. While giving a ‘speech’ means addressing the audience. In another situation, speaking means just saying stuff, although no one is around. While referring to foreign languages to our tongue, we also call it speaking in that language.

On the other hand, talk is done with our close friends, acquaintances, relatives, and people we share a more frank and rather friendly relationship with. Also talking is between two or more people. We need someone to talk to; it cannot be done alone. Also, while conversing in a foreign language, the word ‘talk-ing ‘ in that language isn’t used.

Comparison Table Between Speak and Talk

Parameters of comparison SpeakTalk
FormalityThis word is mainly used while referring to formal conversationsThis word is used while referring to informal conversation
People requiredSpeaking doesn’t always need a second person to listen toTalking is generally done with two or more people
Prepositions used‘With’ is the preposition that mostly follows the word ‘speak’ while conversing with a person‘To’ is more commonly used after the word talk. While conversing with someone
OriginThis word has an Old English originThis word has a German origin
Used onThis is used while conversing with bosses, colleagues, and higher authorities.I used it while conversing with family, friends, and close acquaintances.

What is Speak?

Speak is a word that refers to an act of saying something to higher authorities such as teachers, bosses, colleagues, people we meet during the business, and finally, people who we haven’t known for a long time. It can also be with people with whom we do not share a bond of friendship. It is a more traditional form of conversation when compared to talking. Here the discussion is limited primarily and not personal. An example of this is – ‘May I be allowed to speak to the history teacher? ‘

While giving a ‘speech’ means addressing the audience. In another situation, speaking means just saying stuff, although no one is around. While referring to foreign languages to our tongue, we also call it speaking in that language. For example, if we know Spanish, a foreign language, it’s called ‘speaking Spanish. Also, this word is mostly followed by the preposition ‘with.’ This is what makes it different from talking.

Also, speak, as a word, has the power to change the tone of the conversation. It has its origin from the Old English word, which was ‘sprecan,’ which meant  ‘to speak something.’ Eventually, this word evolved, and during the new era of English, it came to be known as ‘speak.’  Its synonyms are articulate and verbalize. Its antonym is silence.

What is Talk?

Talk is the word that refers to having a conversation with a person. Also, talk is used in a relatively informal sense. It is done with our close friends, acquaintances, relatives, and people we share a more frank and rather friendly relationship with. For example, we ‘talk’ to our parents. We have a ‘talk’ with our friends. The tone of the conversation is also more private and friendlier in this case. We were also talking need to have a partner. We cannot talk alone because the exchange of ideas takes place in talk.

When giving a ‘talk,’ people informally address a group of audience. Also, they take their questions and provide a solution to them. When we converse in a familiar language, we say it ‘talking in that language. For example, an Indian can talk in Hindi. The proposition that follows the talk is ‘to.’ However, ‘with’ can also be used. Though many people prefer using ‘to.’

In English, this word instantly changes the same tone of conversation into a light and informal one. This word has originated from the German roots where the word ‘tale and tell’ were used. Eventually, during the Middle English period, this word became ‘talk.’ Its synonyms are chat, prattle, and babble. Its antonym is to keep quiet or, on a stricter note, ‘to shut one’s mouth.’

Main Differences Between Speak and Talk

  1. The word speak is used while referring to the formal conversation. At the same time, talk is used as an informal form of conversation.
  2. Speaking can be done alone; it doesn’t necessarily require an audience. Whereas talking needs two or more people.
  3. Speak is mainly followed by the preposition with. At the same time, talk is primarily observed by the preposition to.
  4. Speak has an old English origin. However,’ talk ‘ has a German basis.
  5. Speak is used while conversing with bosses, colleagues, and higher authorities. At the same time, talk is used while chatting with family, friends, and close acquaintances.

Conclusion

With the evolution of language, newer words come each day. Old English words are replaced with simpler words. Two of such essential words are spoken and talk. They are very commonly used during our conversations with others and while writing. Most people often end up mixing these two. However, their difference is noticeable.

Its place of use, frequency of usage, and roots are what make these two very different. However, they are both equally essential words. They are sometimes used interchangeably and are even said to be synonyms of each other. But they are different in reality.

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/30027270
  2. https://pubs.asha.org/doi/abs/10.1044/jshr.2801.96
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