yell / shout / scream / shriek = speak loudly
You might yell, shout, scream, or shriek if you are:
- Communicating with someone who is far away (usually yell / shout)
“The soccer coach shouted instructions to the players on the field.”
- Angry (usually yell, shout, or scream)
“My boss yelled at me after I missed an important deadline.”
- Afraid or surprised (usually scream / shriek)
“Barbara shrieked when she found a giant spider in her bed.”
- In pain (usually scream / shriek)
“The little boy started screaming when he accidentally closed his finger in the car door.”
Scream and shriek can also refer to making loud vocal sounds that are not words (especially in the case of fear, surprise, or pain).
cheer = yell / shout in a happy/excited way
People often cheer at sports games and after a great music/theater performance:
- “Everyone cheered when the Brazilian team scored a goal.”
whisper = speak extremely quietly
This is an example of whispering.
You would whisper in a movie theater so as not to disturb the other people – or when you don’t want anyone else to hear what you’re saying.
mumble = speak quietly and not clearly, without opening your mouth very much
People often mumble when they don’t want to talk, or when they’re nervous, embarrassed, or have low confidence in general.
- “My son mumbled an apology to my daughter after breaking her favorite toy.”
mutter / murmur = speak in a quiet voice
The difference between these two is that mutter is usually complaining and saying negative things, whereas murmur is neutral.
- “He left the store muttering about the terrible customer service.”
- “My piano teacher murmured a few words of encouragement to me before I went on stage to perform.”
A similar word to mutter is grumble, meaning to complain in a quiet, low-pitched voice.
whine = complain in an annoying, high-pitched voice
- “My kids started whining when I told them they couldn’t watch TV until they had finished their homework.”
(“But mooooom, that’s not faaaaiiir, I’ll miss my favorite prograaaaam!”)
ramble = speak continuously for a long time with too many details or different topics
- “You shouldn’t ramble during a job interview. Try to keep your answers concise and relevant.”
chat = have an informal conversation
You can use “chat” for informal conversations both online and offline.
- “The teacher was chatting with a few students in the hallway.”
stutter / stammer = speak repeating some sounds
If someone says: “P-p-please don’t d-do that” – they are stuttering or stammering. Some people do this frequently because they have a speech problem, and other people do it occasionally when they are extremely afraid or nervous.
gossip = talk about other peoples’ lives, especially negative things or secret details
- “My neighbor loves to gossip – I think she’s got some dirt on everyone who lives in this apartment building.” (“Dirt” is a slang word for some scandalous or secret information)
Gossip is both a verb and a noun for this type of speaking.
snap at (someone) = say a quick phrase in an annoyed/angry way
- “When I asked my wife if dinner was ready, she snapped at me.”
(“If you want dinner, make it yourself!”)