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The difference between 说话, 讲,谈,说 etc

Hi @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

Hello, I have a question about the use of the following words: 说话, 讲,谈,说 (and also other synonyms). I am quite confused when should I use which.
Thank you!


Me too! Perhaps this could become a new lesson?

All of these 4 words have same meaning in Chinese, speak/say, but different in using, for example:

说 and 说话, usually used in daily communication;
他说:“你吃饭了吗?”------He says," did you have breakfast/ lunch/dinner?’
说话 served as a noun;sometimes, also served as a verb.
我说话你听到了吗?------Did you hear what I said?
when someone is a little impatient or angry, but the other keep silent, he will say,“你说话啊!”------ Say something /answer my question

谈 and 讲, usually used in a formal way, speech or news,
谈 has the meaning of “share idea”;
讲 is more like to “teach”.

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Thank you a lot!
That really helped me! :grinning:

I think you should be able to tell the difference if using these words in a sentence.

  • 他很爱说话 correct
  • 他很爱讲话 correct
  • 他很爱谈 incorrect as it is incomplete (object is missing)
  • 他很爱说 incorrect as it is incomplete (object is missing)
  • 他说话诗歌的时候侃侃而谈 incorrect
  • 他讲话诗歌的时候侃侃而谈 incorrect
  • 他说诗歌的时候侃侃而谈 grammatically correct but not often used like that
  • 他谈诗歌的时候侃侃而谈 correct

I would say 说话 translates more precisely to speaking, such as "Can I speak up/say something? (我可以说话吗?)

讲 is more like telling something to someone, like “I’m telling you / I wanna tell you one thing " (我跟你讲 / 我要跟你讲一件事”.)

On the other hand I heard 谈 more in the context of discussion, such as discussing business or discussing important matters (of the heart for example) (谈生意 / 谈心谈话)

Lastly, 说 is simply" speak / say", like in “You say something” (你说).

Of course depending on the context they can each be used very differently so a lesson on this with some examples might indeed be good.