How to talk about talking (2)

by Liz Walter​
talk about talking
In my last post I explained how to use the verbs say and tell. This post looks at some other common verbs connected with talking and explains how to use them correctly.

Speak and talk have similar meanings. In general, speak is slightly more formal than talk. Remember to use the preposition to before the person. With can also be used, but is more common in US English:

He didn’t speak/talk to me at all.

The teacher spoke/talked with the girl’s parents.

We usually use the preposition about before the thing that is being discussed:

He talked about the weather.

She never speaks about her work.

When you want to describe people having a conversation, it is more common to use talk than speak:

They talked all night.

We sat around the table, speaking.

We use speak with the names of languages. Remember that there is a difference between speak English/Chinese, etc. and speak in English/Chinese, etc.:

She speaks French. (= she knows the French language)

She is speaking in French. (= she is using the French language)

When you use the verb discuss, remember that it must be followed by the subject that is being talked about. Do not use ‘about’ with discuss:

We need to discuss these plans.

We discussed for hours.

We discussed about politics.

Remember not to use ‘to’ after ask or answer:

I asked her some questions.

He answered the man truthfully.

They asked to us for some water.

However, you do need to after explain before the person who is receiving the explanation:

He explained to us how to use the machine.

They explained the payment system to us.

She explained me the rules.

Another common talking verb is suggest. Remember that we can follow it with an  -ing verb but not with an infinitive:

The doctor suggested drinking more water.

He suggested to invite my cousin.

We also use the pattern suggest (that) someone does something:

I suggest (that) you see a doctor.

Remember to use to before the person receiving the suggestion. We usually do this before a that-clause:

I suggested to Tom that he could try running.

They suggested us that we visit the beach.

When the object is a noun or a noun phrase, we usually either don’t show the person receiving the suggestion or we do it in a different way:

He suggested me some places to visit.

He suggested some places to visit./He suggested some places for me to visit.

There are of course many other verbs that we use to talk about talking, and you can improve your English by using more interesting or specific words such as whisper, gossip, pronounce or report. However, the verbs covered in this and the previous post are the ones that cause the most problems for learners, so it is important to learn to use them correctly.

10 thoughts on “How to talk about talking (2)

  1. Hadeel Hammam

    I know you mean by the “subject” the thing “that is being talked about” with the verb suggest, but it is grammatically better to say the object. What do you think LIZ?

  2. Pingback: How to talk about talking (2) | englishmoreformal

  3. Pingback: Agree with and wait for: common mistakes with verbs and their prepositions | About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

  4. Pingback: Verbs (lexis) | ELT Infodump

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