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Language tip of the week: speak

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

Over the coming weeks we will be looking at some of the different verbs we use to talk about speaking. This week’s tip looks at the verb speak itself. When you use speak, you are focusing mainly on the physical act of speaking, and on the way in which someone does this:



Everyone stopped speaking when she entered the room. ♦ People spoke of their fear when the hurricane struck. ♦ He spoke movingly about his son’s struggle with cancer. ♦ She speaks so quietly it’s hard to hear what she says.
Speak is also used to talk about the languages someone knows:
How many languages does she speak? ♦ I speak French and a bit of Italian.
Speak is often used with adverbs. Some adverbs show the manner in which someone speaks: loudly, quietly, softly, quickly, slowly:
Jack spoke so softly I could hardly hear him.
Some adverbs refer to the content of what someone says: candidly, frankly, openly, publicly:
She spoke candidly about her problems.
Some adverbs show the effect of what someone says on other people: eloquently, glowingly, movingly:
He speaks eloquently of the need for social justice.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more synonyms for the verb ‘speak‘.

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Liz Potter

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