You’re speaking my language! Phrases with the verbs ‘speak’ and ‘say’

Listen to the author reading this blog post:

a young man and woman sitting together in a living room smiling as they speak to each other
Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

My last post was on phrases containing the verb ‘talk’. This one looks at some phrases with the related words ‘speak’ and ‘say’.

I will start with a group of phrases where you can use either ‘speak’ or ‘talk’ with the same meaning. If two or more people speak/talk the same language, they agree on things and have the same idea about things. Similarly, if someone says something that shows they have similar opinions to you or makes a suggestion you like, you might say You’re speaking/talking my language!:

When it comes to the topic of clean air, we’re speaking the same language.

An afternoon on the beach? Now you’re speaking my language!

If someone speaks/talks out of turn, they say something they shouldn’t have said, often something rude or tactless. In US English, someone who speaks/talks out of both sides of their mouth says different things to different people, according to what they think those people want to hear:

I hope I’m not speaking out of turn if I say that the child needs more discipline.

She’s speaking out of both sides of her mouth, saying one thing to the managers and another to the workers.

Now to a few phrases where only ‘speak’ is possible. If two people aren’t on speaking terms, they have had an argument and won’t talk to one another any more. If you speak your mind, you say what you really think about something without worrying that you might upset someone. Finally, if something speaks volumes about something, it makes the truth about it very clear:

Rachel damaged Emma’s laptop and they’re not on speaking terms now.

He’s not afraid to speak his mind if he sees people wasting food.

The way he stepped in when the others were bullying me speaks volumes about his character.

Now we will move on to some phrases with the verb ‘say’. If you say your piece, you state your opinion about something, often in a forceful way. If you tell someone to say the word, you mean that you will be ready to do something for them whenever they ask you, while if you say goodbye to something, you accept that you will lose it or will never have it:

I’ve said my piece and I have nothing to add.

You only have to say the word and I’ll be straight over with the car to take you away.

If you get arrested, you can say goodbye to your career.

Finally, if you agree very strongly with something someone has said, you might say You can say that again!:

“He’s nothing like our last English teacher.” “You can say that again!”

I hope you find these talking, speaking and saying phrases useful. I’m sure you will come across others – do add any useful ones you find in the comments!

23 thoughts on “You’re speaking my language! Phrases with the verbs ‘speak’ and ‘say’

    1. David Simmes

      Actually I believe the word you meant to use is “I really LOATHE people who……….”
      The new word for today is from ancient Greece KAKISTOCRACY. I hope you will love the Greek language as I do, because it also gave us the word DEMOCRACY.

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