Difference Between Talk and Speak (With Table)

English is considered to be a complicated language. Though it has developed through the ages, confusions still arise between synonymous words. On the other hand, homophones and homonyms have their own inherent importance. As far as communication is concerned, speak and talk are commonly considered to be similar. They differ slightly on the basis of functionality and mode of conduct.

Talk vs Speak

The main difference between talk and speak is that the former is used in an informal setup while the latter is used mostly in a formal setup. Both of them are significant modes of establishing communication. The presence of speaker and listener holds equal importance. It is essential to maintain the much-needed rapport so that the talker and speaker does not get distracted.

Talk is used to refer to the informal banter that takes place between two friends or acquaintances. Talking helps in initiating friendships and exchanging introductory information during the first meeting. Talkative people are found all around the globe. It is a common belief that talks on important matters lead to a conclusion. Talking and chattering are the terms used to describe talkative people’s banters.

Speak is used to denote how a person utters a specific speech, mostly in front of a large group of people. Human speech is held to be an essential and unique aspect of the species. Once the speech begins, everyone else is expected to pay attention. Speaking is possible only due to the proper functioning of vocal cords. In most cases, speeches should have a particular subject or title.

Comparison Table Between Talk And Speak

Parameters of ComparisonTalkSpeak
DefinitionIt is an informal mode of communication in which all parties are given equal importance. It is a formal mode of communication in which emphasis is laid on one speaker at a time only.
OriginIt has an East Frisian origin. It has an origin in Old English.
Common Grammar UsageIt is a noun and an irregular verb (multiple usage).It is a verb, most commonly referred as an regular verb.
Minimum Number of PartiesMore than one person is required to initiate a talk. A single person can speak.
ExamplePeople talk with each other. A boy speaks to himself in front of a mirror.

What is Talk?

Talks can be held on general topics or some specific topics. There is no aim of talking. Once a talk begins, the views might lead to an argument as well. A talk can also be referred to as a conversation. There are numerous applications of the work talk, like in that of talk shows and other entertainment industry programs.

The way of expressing the word “talk” in the literal sense is mostly done in the continuous form, be it in past, present or future. This indirectly implies that “talking” is the most prevalent derivative of the root work talk. Two or more than two people talk to share their thoughts or just as a means to kill time. At the workplace, officials talk with one another to pass on necessary information.

Initiating a talk might be comparatively easier for extroverts as compared to introverts. The art of talking is learnt with age and progresses due to exposure. It is a biological truth that newborns cannot talk.

What is Speak?

Speak denotes unitary conversation, which is also considered to be a monologue at times. If a person speaks a lot, people might compare that person with a professional speaker who keeps on preaching views. It is also a common held notion that a person who has to indulge in formal speaking should have exceptional oratory skills so that people can pay attention throughout the speech.

A native speaker might make use of the common language or use some jargon as well. It is expected that during public speaking, the vocabulary should be polished and fumbling should be as negligible as possible. At times, authorities in English have also regarded the word “speak” as the formal version of the word “talk”

Speaking is an ability that is either missing right from birth, as in mute people, or goes away due to some life event. Anyone who is able to speak fluently tries to deliver more information in less number of words.

Main Differences Between Talk And Speak

  1. A talk is defined as an informal conversation pattern for general exchange of feelings, emotions, etc. On the other hand, to speak denotes utterance of words from the mouth for communication purposes, mostly in a more formal setting.
  2. The word talk originated from the East Frisian language while speak has its origin in some of the mentions in the texts of Old English.
  3. The grammatical structure for a talk is mainly dual – as that of a noun and an irregular verb. The usage of the work speak is most commonly in the form of a regular work
  4. The minimum number of parties required for a talk is caped at two while a single person can indulge in acts that require one to speak out.
  5. The contexts in which talk can be used include entertainment purposes and initiating friendships. On the other hand, speaking is a human attribute that further helps in communicating the inner emotions, needs, etc.


Humans are known to be the best communicators across the planet. Once the rapport is established effectively, the exchange of ideas takes place on a continuous basis. Since the flow of words depends on the lexicon, it is hard to make out solely from the expressions. A lot of anthropologists have contributed to this field of research. Talking and speaking are separated distinctly based on the usage alone.

The concept of expressing in audio mode is guided by many words like uttering, speaking, interacting, and the list is non-exhaustive. Whichever mode of reference is used, the basic intention is to promote the exchange of ideas. Languages might be considered as barriers in all modes of communication. At times, the presence of mind plays an important role in speaking as well as talking.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mbe.12081
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825601908929
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