Say

  • to say (nothing follows, direct speech),’to express something using words’, g. ‘I’m leaving,’ she said.
  •    to say something (e.g. yes/no, a few words, good-bye) to (!) smb.

e.g. What did she say to him?

  • to say that … (indirect speech), e.g. She said (that) she was leaving.

Set expressions, phr v: not to say a word, the letter/the newspaper says, have sth to say, it goes without saying, to say nothing of…, they say, I must say

Tell

  • to tell smb (that), ‘to give information to someone’, g. She told me (that) she was leaving.
  • to tell smb about smth, e.g. He told me about his new job.
  • to tell (smb) smth, e.g. a story, a joke
  • to tell smb to V1 (order), e.g. Mom told me to clean up my room.

Set expressions, phr v: tell the truth, tell a lie, tell a few things apart, tell the difference between…, tell smth from smth, tell a mile off*, tell tales**, tell smb off***, tell smb’s fortune, tell the time, tell the way, tell a secret

* ‘to see or recognize someone or something very easily’

**’to sneak, to inform someone about something bad that someone else has done’ (used mainly by children).

*** ‘to criticize someone angrily for doing something wrong’

Talk

  • to talk to/with smb about smth, ‘to communicate, to discuss’, e.g. I talked to my sister about our childhood and we laughed a lot.
  • to talk, ‘to use words to communicate’

Can their baby talk yet?

Set expressions, phr v: talk sense/nonsense, talk shop*, talk down to smb, talk back

* ‘to talk about your job with those you work with when not at work’

Speak

  • to speak to/with smb about smth, ‘to communicate, to discuss, to have a conversation’ (with is used mainly in US English), e.g. There was a long pause before she spoke again.
  • to speak, ‘have a telephone conversation’, e.g. ‘Can I speak to Dan, please?’
  • to speak a language, e.g. to speak English
  • to speak loudly/in a loud voice/quietly/in a low voice
  • to speak, ‘to deliver a speech in a formal context’, e.g. The company director will be speaking at the meeting.

Set expressions, phr v: generally/strictly/frankly speaking, speak for itself, speak for yourself, speaking of …, to be on speaking terms*, speak highly/well of smb, speak ill/badly of smb, speak one’s mind, speak up**

* ‘to know someone well enough to talk to them’

** ‘ to speak louder’

Test

Exercises

  1. Complete the gaps with say, tell, speak or talk in the right form (general use)

1) I enjoy his company. He always … me funny stories and makes me laugh.

2) Do you … English?

3) Can you … me the time?

4) Please, call me whenever you can. I need to … to you.

5) What did you …? Sorry, I didn’t hear.

6) She … that she was busy.

7) He … me he’d won the game.

8) ‘Call me back,’ she …

9) She didn’t … anything and silently left.

10) Can I … to the manager, please?

11) The teacher … me to recite the poem.

12) At what age did you learn to …?

13) The local MP will be … at our graduation ceremony.

14) Did I … you this joke before?

15) He … me to call the client back.

2. Correct the mistakes (general use + expressions)

  1. Say me what happened.

  2. It goes without speaking that he’s a talented writer.

  3. The teacher asked us to stop saying at the lesson.

  4. I don’t quite get it! What are you telling about?

  5. I wish you spoke me the real story.

  6. I trust him. He’s never said a lie to me.

  7. How dare you tell down to me?

  8. Can you imagine?! He talks 4 languages!

  9. I don’t think he was feeling well. He was speaking complete nonsense!

  10. Could you tell louder, please?

  11. Look at this photo! My dress is a real scream*, to speak nothing of my hairdo!

  12. I didn’t hear what you told.

  13. Frankly talking, he’s the best specialist in our department.

  14. He said me to close the door.

  15. Hello, may I say to Mr. Downie?

  16. To say you the truth, I’m not a big fan of such movies.

  17. I was spoken off for being late.

  18. Look at them! Even at the party they are saying shop.

  19. Don’t speak back when your mother is speaking to you!’

  20. She tells very highly of the new director.

*very funny

3. Translate

1) Ты рассказала маме про новую учительницу?

2) Нам нужно серьезно поговорить.

3) Вы не могли бы говорить громче?

4) Он не сказал ни слова о новом проекте.

5) Не говори чушь! Это отличный план!

6) Я не различаю эти улицы. Он очень похожи.

7) В статье говорится, что они приняли новый закон.

8) Мы лучшие подруги. Я рассказываю ей все свои секреты.

9) Говоря о нынешней ситуации, нужно отметить некоторые улучшения.

10) Когда я пришел домой поздно, отец меня отругал.

11) Она его не любит — это видно за версту.

12) Честно говоря, я пришел, чтобы попрощаться.

13) Она гордячка, со всеми говорит свысока.

14) Нет сомнений в том, что дети копируют поведение родителей.

15) Я могу поговорить с Джейн? (по телефону)

16) Я говорю на английском, испанском и французском языках.

17) Ваши клиенты очень хорошо отзываются о Вас.

18) Перестань огрызаться. Я говорю это, потому что желаю тебе добра.

19) Вы не подскажете, как пройти к художественной галерее?

20) Говорят, она умеет предсказывать будущее.