Say vs Tell vs Speak vs Talk – English Class

by Feb 12, 2019English Grammar Tips

Marilyn RC

Community Contributor (Philippines)

  • Leadership strengths (Level 2)
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Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.


George Washington C

Free English Class Online

Free English Lessons online for beginners – Confusing English Verbs


English Class by Vanessa – Say, Tell, Speak, Talk: What’s the difference?

Thank you, “youtube\Speak English With Vanessa”.



Say vs Tell vs Speak vs Talk – English Class

In this free online English class, we are going to show you the difference between confusing English verbs SAY, TELL,  TALK  and SPEAK.

English class learning tip 1 – How to use SAY

Format: I say, He/She/It says, We/They say, I will say. I am saying, I said and I have said.

Example: She says that it will take her dog a week to recover.

“Say” is most often used without a personal object.

We do not use an object immediately after the “say”.

“Say” means to express something with words.

The general rule is that we say something and to express a thought, opinion or suggestion.


English class learning tip 2 – How to use TELL

Format: I tell, She/He/It tells, They/We tell, I will tell, I am telling, I told and I have told

Example: The girl tells her friends what’s wrong with her.

“Tell” means to give information to a person.

When we use ‘tell’, we also include the object immediately after the irregular verb.

Tell is commonly used when giving an order or instruction.

After tell, we usually say who is told, i.e., tell someone something.

The general rule is that we say something and to give information or instruction to a person.



English class learning tip 3 – How to use SPEAK

Format: I speak, he/He/It speaks, They/We speak. I will speak, I am speaking, I spoke and I have spoken

Example: She can’t speak because she has a sore throat.

“Speak” tends to be a bit more formal and has a more formal and serious tone. It also refers to more general topics than “talk”.

But we used “speak” in a more formal situation and wish to emphasize that something is important.

When ‘speak’ is used as a noun (speech) it also takes on a more formal tone that when we use ‘talk’ – i.e. ‘Give a speech’ is more formal than ‘give a talk’.

The general rule is used to speak in a more formal situation and to refer to languages or a conversation in general with no specific details.


English class learning tip 4 – How to use TALK

Format: I talk, She/He/It talks, They/We talk, I will talk, I am talking, I talked and I have talked

Example: The doctor talks with the wife about the patient’s problem.

Speak and Talk are very similar.

We use the verb ‘talk’ when we are in a more relaxed setting or when we are among friends in a conversational situation.

You can think of ‘talk’ as a slightly more formal word for ‘chat’.

When you use “talk” you might add it with a proposition “about”.

The general rule is to use speak in less formal situations in a normal and casual conversation. Talk is also used to refer to conversation exchanges and informal.

Thank you for reading my English class and learning tips. Have a good day!

Marilyn RC‎





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