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How to correctly use Speak Discuss Talk and Argue

Hi and welcome back to the Art of Business English podcast. Just the other day I was teaching one of my very advanced students and she made a common mistake that I have seen made by students of all levels.

So, today I have decided to give you a quick lesson on how to use the verbs speak, discuss, talk and argue correctly.

I would also recommend that you take a listen to both episode 62 and 115. These two episodes help you to understand some common differences between the words in today’s lesson.

If you like this lesson, then you will probably love our course on building your knowledge of business idioms. Click the link below for more information on how to enroll, as well as a free sample lesson.

OK, let’s get started with today’s lesson. 

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Business Idioms

This six module course helps English language learners build their knowledge of business idioms and their understanding of them in different business scenarios.

We cover idioms for marketing, finance, behaviour, operations and production, manegament and planning.

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Speak, Discuss, Talk, Argue

To speak and to talk are obviously very common verbs in English and they practically mean the same thing. We can “speak” or “talk” to someone about something. What is important to remember here are the prepositions, “to” and “about”.

The simple past of speak is spoke and the simple past of talk is talked.

“Jim spoke to Mary about the upcoming managers meeting.”

“Clair talked to Helen about the project they were working on.”

Discuss is a little difference, often commonly confused with “discutir” in Spanish. “Discutir” actually means “to argue”. “To argue” means to get into a fight with someone and verbally raise your voice or shout at them. The verb discuss follows a separate structure. We “discuss” things with people. “

“Cliff discussed the latest sales report with his line manager.”

Common mistake

Finally, let’s look at the common mistake that people often make. The rule is in fact very simple. The verbs, talk, speak and argue are all followed by the preposition “about”.

So, for instance, we can talk about something, or speak about something and even argue about something.

The verb “discuss” on the other hand is NOT followed directly by a preposition. So typically, people say “We discussed about the late delivery.” This is totally incorrect.

The correct way to say this would simply be to leave out the preposition, so; “We discussed the late delivery.” Oh, and remember, discuss means to talk about and not to argue about. 

Final thoughts

There you go, now you know this simple rule and you should start to notice when you make this mistake and then go on to correct yourself. That is one of the keys to learning, it is OK to make mistakes, but if you are self-aware of the mistakes you make and then correct them consciously, then you will be on your way to speaking perfect English.

Practicing English is very important, so take a look at our short course on “How to avoid the most common mistakes in English”. This extremely useful course will have you learning the most common mistakes made in English AND teach you how to avoid them.

That’s all from me, please let me know if you enjoyed this lesson. Take care till next week. 

Are you looking to expand your knowledge of English vocabulary and expressions? 

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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