Talking or Speaking?

“I think we should talk about this”. “I think we should speak about this”. Do these two sentences mean the same thing? Some of you may say yes, because I have often seen “talk” written where “speak” should have been written, and “speak” used where it should have been “talk”. We should be careful about when to use what, as the two are two distinct activities. In fact, they are so different that people may be talking without actually speaking!

“Talking” is what we do all the time – the informal exchange of words. It’s the kind of communication that we do without giving much thought to it. “Speaking”, on the other hand, is the expression of thoughts or opinions through the medium of words. In other words, it is meaningful talking that is done after giving some thought to it. So, when we say “we should talk about this”, we mean just the exchange of words; but when we say “let’s speak about this”, we mean to have a meaningful talk, or an exchange of views and opinions.

Ben Jonson, one of the greatest writers of all times, explained the difference so well – “A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks”.

So, what do you think I was just doing? Was I talking, or was I speaking?


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