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Say Tell Talk Speak

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Hi there!

During this lesson we're going to learn the difference among the words: Say, Tell, Talk, and Speak.

The word Say is normally used when talking indirectly or directly to someone, or when saying something in general.

For example, it's used indirectly when saying something like: If I say that I'm going to do something, then I normally do it.

Note that when you use the word say in an indirect context, then you normally add the word that after it. They say that the weather is going to be good tomorrow.

Then if it's used a direct context, it could be used to say something like: People usually say to him that he's a good worker.

Note that you cannot say say me... or she says him... without adding the word to after the word say.

Then the word Tell is normally used when talking directly to someone, when telling someone a story, or when giving them orders, instructions, or information. For example, I always tell tourists about the best restaurants in town, or His mother always tells him not to speak with his mouth full during dinner.

Note that when we use the word tell, we often add the word about after the object. I'll tell you about the film I saw last night. Then you do not add the word to directly after it. For example, you can't say: Tell to me... or he tells to us...

Likewise, you can't use the word it directly after the word tell when you talk about a fact which you've talked about before. For example, you can't say I'll tell you it next week, but you can say I'll tell you about it next week.

You can also add the word again after the object. For example: This is the last time I'm telling you to stop shouting, and I don't want to tell you again!.

Next, the words Talk and Speak are very similar, and are often interchangeable, but there are some rules about when they can, or cannot be used. Then there are some phrasal verbs which only use either talk or speak.

Here are some examples:

Sorry, but I can't hear you, could you speak up a little? This means that I'm asking someone to speak in a louder voice.

Remember to speak your mind when you have the meeting with your boss. This means that I'm telling you to remember to express your true opinion about something you need to tell your boss.

I don't like when you talk down to me. This means that I don't like when you speak to me as if I were less important than you.

That old lady can talk away for hours! This means that the old lady can speak a lot for hours.

The word Talk is less formal than the word Speak, and it's normally used when two or more people communicate with each other, for example: I often talk with my friends about my dreams.

Then the word Speak is more formal than the word Talk, and it's normally used in one way communication, when one person speaks to another person, for example: The school headmaster needs to speak with the pupils about the new rules.

The word speak is also used when languages are involved, for example: She speaks English very well.

So now that you know when to use these words, try finding some new friends on GoSpeakEnglish and speak with them to see if they have anything interesting to tell you!

And that's the end of this lesson!

Now you can see if you've understood the video, and do the test on GoSpeakEnglish. You can also watch many other English video lessons on GoSpeakEnglish.

Thanks, and I hope to see you again soon!
 

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