Talk TO or Talk WITH?

Phrasal Verbs in Conversation Course

Download 500+ English Phrases

Difference between TALK TO and TALK WITH

A lot of students ask me about the difference between talk to and talk with. 

The answer is that there’s essentially NO difference when two people are having a conversation, and both of them are speaking. You can say “Sue is talking to John” or “Sue is talking with John” – they’re the same!

Some people claim that talk to should be used when it’s only one person speaking, and talk with should be used when it’s more of a two-sided discussion.

However, in practice, many native speakers use both interchangeably. Here are some examples.

  •  Can I talk to you for a minute?
    = Can I talk with you for a minute?
  • Brian’s over there, talking to Matt.
    = Brian’s over there, talking with Matt.
  • talked to my boss and she said I could take a day off.
    = I talked with my boss and she said I could take a day off.

Here are some other combinations of talk + preposition:

talk about + (topic/person)

This is the most common way to express speaking about a topic. The topic can be serious or not so serious.

  • We talked about our favorite movies.
  • Everyone’s talking about the World Cup.
  • They always talk about me behind my back.
    (behind my back = when I’m not present/listening)

talk over / talk through + (problem/issue)

We use talk over and talk through to describe a more detailed, in-depth discussion, often when there’s a decision to be made, or a problem or conflict that needs to be resolved. Talk through can also be used for explanation of a process step by step.

  • I’m not about to buy a car on a whim. I need to talk it over with my wife first.
    (on a whim = on impulse, spontaneously)
  • My business partner and I talked things over and came up with a plan.
    (came up with = created/invented)
  • If you’re not happy in the relationship, you should talk it through with your boyfriend.
    (= discuss a problem in depth)
  • The IT guy talked us through the installation of the new computer program.
    (= explain a process)

talk someone into / talk someone out of
+ doing something

To talk someone into doing something means to convince that person to do it. He/she didn’t want to do it, but you managed to change their mind.

  • I was hesitant to try ice skating, but Helen talked me into going.
  • Let’s see if we can talk Pete into giving us free food.
  • I can’t believe the salesman talked you into buying a $7,000 sound system.

The opposite is to talk someone out of doing something – meaning to convince the person NOT to do it:

  • I was going to buy an iPhone, but Fred talked me out of it by telling me all the ways that Samsung phones are better.
  • He wants to get a giant tattoo, and his wife is trying to talk him out of it.
  • I’m glad my friend talked me out of quitting school when I was about to give up.

Learn Phrasal Verbs Naturally

Phrasal Verbs in English Course

Learn more about the Phrasal Verbs Course