Explanations » A2 Vocabulary Explanations » Say, tell, speak, talk, etc. – A2 English Vocabulary

Say, tell, speak, talk, etc.

In this Pre-intermediate Vocabulary Lesson about Speaking Verbs, you will learn the meanings of different verbs related to speaking, such as say, tell, speak, and talk, and how to use them in a sentence.

Chart of Common Speaking Verbs in A2 English Vocabulary lesson featuring say, tell, speak, talk, ask, request, beg, answer, reply, shout, yell, scream, whisper, complain, and suggest with their uses and example sentences.

The verbs say and tell mean almost the same thing, but we use them differently. When you say something, you just speak. Sometimes, you say something to someone. For example, “I said ‘hello’ to my friend.” With tell, you always need to mention who you are talking to right after tell. You can tell someone something, like a story, or you can tell someone to do something. For example, “I told my friend a story” or “I told my friend to come here.”

  • He said me he was tired. blank
  • He told he was tired. blank
  • He told me he was tired. blank
  • He said he was tired. blank

When you speak or talk to someone, you communicate with them using words. The two verbs are often interchangeable; however, speak is used in more formal contexts, and it is the verb we use in reference to languages: “She speaks English.”

  • I need to talk to you.
  • Sara speaks French very well.

Ask, ask for, and request are all verbs that we use when referring to questions. When you ask someone something, you simply pose a question. You can also use the form ask somebody to do something when you need someone to do something for you.

  • He asked her what her name was. 
  • She asked me to help her. 

When you ask for something, you ask someone to give you something or do something for you. Request is similar to ask for but much more formal, so when you request something, you ask for it in an official or formal context.

  • I asked the waiter for some water. 
  • The president requested an urgent meeting.

When you beg (someone) for something, you ask for something in an insistent, desperate manner, and when you beg someone to do something, you ask them to do it in a desperate or urgent way.

  • He begged for help.
  • I begged my brother to lend me some money.

Answer and reply are both things you do after someone asks a question. When you answer a person, or you answer a question, you provide a response to someone’s question, request or problem. The verb reply is used to indicate a response to any form of communication, not just questions, and it is followed by to: reply to an email, a letter, a comment, etc.

  • During the interview, I had to answer many difficult questions.
  • He looked serious when he answered me, 
  • I sent him the offer yesterday, but he hasn’t replied yet.
  • Jack replied to my email immediately.

When you yell or shout, you talk very loudly. If you yell, it is usually because you are mad or very upset. But shout can be for many reasons, like if someone is far away and can’t hear you. Scream is different. When people scream, they are usually scared or hurt. It is a very loud and high sound.

  • Please don’t yell at me! I can hear perfectly well.
  • The angry customer was shouting at the waiter.
  • Jerry screamed when he saw the huge rat.

Whispering is the opposite of shouting. When you whisper, you talk very quietly so only people close to you can hear.

  • Gary was whispering because he didn’t want to wake the baby.
  • “Let’s get out,” she whispered in my ear.

When you complain about something, you say you are not happy with something. For example, if you get bad food or service at a restaurant, you might complain. When you suggest something or doing something, you give an idea or a plan to someone. You might suggest going to a different restaurant next time.

  • The neighbours complained about the noise.
  • “Let’s go for a picnic!” suggested Martin.

After completing the exercises in this lesson on The House, you can use the unit’s Vocabulary Flascards to revise and help you memorize the terms.