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Talk to vs. Talk with—Which Should I Use?

  • Talk to and talk with both mean to converse with someone.
  • In almost all cases, talk to and talk with can be used interchangeably.

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If you are having a conversation, are you talking to or talking with someone? Is talking to someone different from talking with someone? Let’s settle the issue.

When to use talk to

Some feel that talk to should be used only for one-sided conversations—when a television host addresses the viewers, perhaps, or when a boss reprimands an employee. However, imagine that someone asks to talk to you. Would you remain completely silent, assuming that in the request was an implicit expectation for you not to respond? Probably not, because in everyday conversation, talk to is understood to mean “converse with someone.”

The employee became curious when her boss asked to talk to her in the conference room.

My wife hates when I interrupt as she talks to me.

When to use talk with

Some people also feel that talk with should be reserved for discussions between two or more participants. Unlike the expression talk to, an interchange is implicit in the understanding of the preposition with. However, it’s rarely necessary to make such a strict distinction.

The toddler often talks with her teddy bears about her day.

Brent asked if he could talk with the celebrity about his recent film.

Examples

To make America’s roads safer, cars should constantly talk to each other over a wireless car-to-car network rather than just relying on drivers to see what others are doing.
CNN

Now, scientists have discovered that the stunning creatures do this when they want to ‘talk’ to their fellow whales.
Daily Mail

CHI Health cardiologist Michael Delcore will talk with guests about the signs of a heart attack and when to call 911.

GO

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege to talk with Adams about his reaction when he heard about being traded, who were some of his favorite pitchers growing up, his pitch arsenal, and you will hear about some of the toughest hitters he has faced during his college and professional career.
District On Deck

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