Speak, Talk, Say, Tell Difference

Speak, Talk, Say, Tell difference. Learn the difference between confusing English verbs speak, talk, say, tell. Avoid making mistakes in speaking English.

Learn how to use the correct word in each situation and sound a lot more like a native English speaker. 

Listen to the podcast Speak Better English with Harry or watch it on YouTube at Learn English with Harry. englishclass101

Confusing English Verbs

Speak, Talk, Say, Tell difference

And as you know in all of my English lessons I always ask you to send me your contributions, or questions, or even if you have suggestions on what you would like to have included in future lessons.

Well, this particular lesson is exactly that. Hello there, Ruben. This is for you. You asked me to give you some ideas through a lesson about the difference between say, tell, speak and talk. And a few other words like ask that I’ve thrown in. And utter and convey.

So this lesson is for all of you out there with these difficulties. But in particular, it’s been asked and requested by Ruben.

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say – said – said

1. it is used with or without a personal object

Sarah said that she was tired.

When used with a personal object, it is always followed by the preposition “to”

Sarah said to me that she was tired.

Sarah said me that she was tired.

2. it can also be used to express an opinion or thought

I say we should give each person 20 tickets so that they can sell them and raise some money for charity.

Oh, I say, what’s that over there? That looks very interesting.


tell – told – told

1. is always followed by a personal object

She told me (that) she was tired.

2. we often use it to describe giving orders or instructions

I told them to go to bed.

I told you to ring the doctor.

say and tell

can be used in direct and reported speech

She said, “I want to leave.”

She said that she wanted to leave.

She said, “I hate tea.”

She told me she hates tea.

say vs tell

Say and tell are always interchangeable. The only thing you have to do, you have to change the structure of the sentence to make it a little different.

say + something (to somebody)

tell + someone (something)

Did she tell you what happened yesterday?

Did she say what happened yesterday?

What did Jack say?

What did Jack tell you?

Speak, Talk, Say, Tell difference

Speak talk say tell difference. English grammar rules. Improve English speaking. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. Improve English speaking and writing skills. #learnenglish


speak – spoke – spoken

1. we use it in more formal situations and wish to emphasise that sth is important

I will speak to you later.

I will speak to management and ask them to increase our salaries.

2. we use it when we’re referring to languages

He can speak three languages.

3. we also use it when we’re talking about making an address to a large gathering or crowd

The senior manager will speak at the end of the conference.


talk – talked – talked

we use it in a more relaxed setting, in a conversational situation

I was talking to your mum the other day.

We talked all night about our favourite movies.

speak vs talk

Speak and talk are interchangeable. It only depends on the formality of the speech. There is no need to change the structure of the sentence.

I would like to speak to your manager.

I would like to talk with your parents.

speak to vs speak with

When use speak to, it’s a one-way conversation.

I’m really annoyed. I will speak to you later.

When we use speak with, it’s a friendly and enjoyable conversation. Participants are both listening and talking.

I would like to speak with the team and find out what they want to do.


ask – asked – asked

We use it in indirect (reported) speech when talking about questions.

Why do you want to leave your job? – Pam asked me why I wanted to leave my job.

Can you ride a bicycle? – Ben asked Sam if he could ride a bicycle.

Could you do me a favour? – He asked me to do him a favour.

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Meaning: to speak or pronounce, often it’s used in a negative context

Sit there and don’t utter a word.

He sat in the conference all day without uttering a word.


Meaning: (formal) to give a message to other people

Please convey my gratitude to your parents for their help.

Please convey my wishes to the management.

I’d like you to convey my condolences to your family.

Speak, Talk, Say, Tell difference

Speak talk say tell difference. English grammar rules. Improve English speaking. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. Improve English speaking and writing skills. #learnenglish

Okay, so hopefully, Ruben I’ve covered the difference between say, speak, talk and tell.

As always, please practice. And if you have any more problems or difficulties, come back to me and I’ll give you a few more suggestions and a few more ideas.

As always, try to practice because that’s the best way to learn and improve English. As always, if you want something else, please let me know, and we’ll include it in a future video for you.

Okay, this is Harry saying goodbye. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. Join me again for the next lesson.

speak better English with Harry podcast- episode 422

more information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

English verbs to describe READING

English expressions about CHALLENGES

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British Council Learn English.

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