English translation unavailable for .


US /spiːk/ 
UK /spiːk/ 

To be able to talk in a particular language

Persian equivalent: 

سخن‌ گفتن‌، حرف‌ زدن‌، صحبت‌ كردن‌


Is it easy to speak French?

آیا فرانسه صحبت کردن آسان است؟

Oxford Essential Dictionary


 verb (speaks, speaking, spoke /, has spoken )

1 to say things; to talk to somebody:
Please speak more slowly.
Can I speak to John Smith, please? (= words that you say on the telephone)
The head teacher spoke for over an hour.
Look at the note at talk.

2 to know and use a language:
I can speak French and Italian.

speak up to talk louder:
Can you speak up? I can't hear you!
The noun is speech.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


speak S1 W1 /spiːk/ BrE AmE verb (past tense spoke /spəʊk $ spoʊk/, past participle spoken /ˈspəʊkən $ ˈspoʊ-/)
[Word Family: adjective: ↑unspeakable, ↑speechless, ↑outspoken, ↑spoken ≠ ↑unspoken; noun: ↑speaker, ↑speech; verb: ↑speak; adverb: ↑unspeakably]
[Language: Old English; Origin: sprecan, specan]
1. IN CONVERSATION [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to talk to someone about something
speak to
I spoke to her last Wednesday.
‘Hello, may I speak to Jim Smith?’ ‘Yes, speaking’ (=used on the telephone).
I know her by sight, but not to speak to (=not well enough to talk to her).
speak to somebody about something
I haven’t spoken to Steve about all this.
speak with especially American English:
They did not want to speak with reporters.
speak of
It was the first time she had ever spoken of marriage.
2. SAY WORDS [intransitive] to use your voice to produce words:
I was so shocked I couldn’t speak.
He spoke very softly (=quietly).
3. LANGUAGE [transitive not in progressive] to be able to talk in a particular language:
Do you speak English?
I don’t speak a word of French (=do not speak any French at all).
can/can’t speak something
Several children in the class can’t speak English.
French-speaking/Italian-speaking etc
a German-speaking secretary
4. FORMAL SPEECH [intransitive] to make a formal speech
speak at
Jones spoke at the teachers’ annual convention.
speak to
She asked me to speak to her students about my work in marketing.
speak in favour of/against
Only one MP spoke against the bill. ⇨ ↑speaker(1)
5. EXPRESS IDEAS/OPINIONS [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to say something that expresses your ideas or opinions
speak as a parent/teacher/democrat etc
He emphasized that he was speaking as a private citizen, not in any official capacity.
speak well/highly/ill of somebody (=say good or bad things about someone)
Her co-workers spoke highly of her.
It’s wrong to speak ill of the dead.
strictly/generally/roughly speaking (=used when expressing an idea that you think is exactly true, generally true etc)
Strictly speaking, it’s my money, not yours. I earned it.
6. so to speak used when you are saying something in words that do not have their usual meaning:
We have to pull down the barriers, so to speak, of poverty.
7. speak your mind to tell people exactly what you think, even if it offends them:
He was a tough politician who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.
8. be not speaking/not be on speaking terms if two people are not speaking, they do not talk to each other, usually because they have argued:
He was not on speaking terms with his brother or sisters.
9. speak volumes (about/for something) if something speaks volumes, it clearly shows the nature of something or the feelings of a person:
What you wear speaks volumes about you.
10. speak with one voice if a group of people speak with one voice, they all express the same opinion:
On this issue, the 12 organizations spoke with one voice.
11. speak the same language if two people or groups speak the same language, they have similar attitudes and opinions
12. speak out of turn to say something when you do not have the right or authority to say it
actions speak louder than words at ↑action1(13), ⇨ the facts speak for themselves at ↑fact(8), ⇨ in a manner of speaking at ↑manner(5)
• • •
COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 5)
■ adverbs
speak well/highly of somebody (=say good things about them) He always spoke very highly of Marge.
speak ill of somebody (=say bad things about them) She never speaks ill of him.
speaking personally Speaking personally, yes, this is a worry.
strictly speaking Strictly speaking, the tomato is a fruit.
generally speaking Generally speaking, the results have been good.
roughly/broadly speaking These innovations are, roughly speaking, what this book is about.
relatively speaking Relatively speaking, property there is still cheap.
■ phrases
speak as a parent/teacher etc Speaking as a medical man, I'd advise you to take some exercise every day.
• • •
■ to speak a language
speak to be able to talk in a foreign language: Do you speak German? | I learnt Spanish for years, but I still don’t speak it very well.
be fluent in something to be very good at speaking and understanding a foreign language, so that you can speak it almost as well as your own language: Applicants should be fluent in Cantonese.
get by to speak enough of a language to be able to buy things, ask for help etc: ‘What’s your Italian like?’ ‘Not great, but I can get by.’ | I’ve just bought a book called ‘Get by in Portuguese'.
have/pick up a smattering of something to speak or learn to speak a small but useful amount of a language: While I was in Bali, I picked up a smattering of Indonesian.
speak for phrasal verb
1. speak for somebody/something to express the feelings, thoughts, or beliefs of a person or group of people:
Dan, speaking for the students, started the meeting.
2. speak for yourself spoken used to tell someone that you do not have the same opinion as they do, or that something that is true for them is not true for you:
‘We don’t want to go.’ ‘Speak for yourself!’
3. be spoken for if something or someone is spoken for, they have already been promised to someone else:
They’re all either married or spoken for.
4. speak for itself/themselves to show something very clearly:
The results speak for themselves.
speak of something phrasal verb
1. literary to show clearly that something happened or exists:
Her skin spoke of warm summer days spent in the sun.
2. no ... to speak of (also none/nothing to speak of) very little of something or a very small thing:
There’s been no rain to speak of for several months.
The house had no garden to speak of.
speak out phrasal verb
to publicly speak in protest about something, especially when protesting could be dangerous
speak out about/against
Five students who had spoken out against the regime were arrested.
speak to phrasal verb
1. to talk to someone who has done something wrong and tell them not to do it again:
Joe was late again today. You’ll have to speak to him.
2. if something such as a poem, painting, or piece of music speaks to you, you like it because it expresses a particular meaning, quality, or feeling to you:
Modern art just doesn’t speak to me.
speak up phrasal verb
1. used to ask someone to speak louder:
Could you speak up, please?
2. to say something, especially to express your opinion:
There was a brief silence, then Gerald spoke up.
3. speak up for somebody to speak in support of someone:
He is willing to speak up for the rights of women.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


speak [speak speaks spoke speaking spoken]   [spiːk]    [spiːk]  verb (spoke   [spəʊk]  ;   [spoʊk]  spoken   [ˈspəʊkən]  ;   [ˈspoʊkən]  )


1. intransitive to talk to sb about sth; to have a conversation with sb
~ (to sb) (about sth/sb) I've spoken to the manager about it.
The President refused to speak to the waiting journalists.
‘Can I speak to Susan?’ ‘Speaking.’ (= at the beginning of a telephone conversation)
‘Do you know him?’ ‘Not to speak to.’ (= only by sight)
• I saw her in the street but we didn't speak.

(especially NAmE) ~ (with sb) (about sth/sb) Can I speak with you for a minute?  


2. intransitive to use your voice to say sth
He can't speak because of a throat infection.
Please speak more slowly.
Without speaking, she stood up and went out.
• He speaks with a strange accent.

• She has a beautiful speaking voice.  


3. intransitive ~ of/about sth/sb to mention or describe sth/sb
She still speaks about him with great affection.
Witnesses spoke of a great ball of flame.
Speaking of travelling, (= referring back to a subject just mentioned) are you going anywhere exciting this year?

• The brochure speaks of beautiful secluded grounds.  



4. transitive (not used in the progressive tenses) ~ sth to be able to use a particular language
to speak several languages
• to speak a little Urdu

• Do you speak English?

5. transitive, intransitive to use a particular language to express yourself
~ sth What language is it they're speaking?

~ in sth Would you prefer it if we spoke in German?  



6. (in adjectives) speaking the language mentioned
• French-speaking Canada

• non-English-speaking students  



7. intransitive (+ adv./prep.) to make a speech to an audience
to speak in public
to speak on the radio
to speak at a conference
Professor Wilson was invited to speak about the results of his research.
She spoke in favour of the new tax.

• He has a number of speaking engagements this week.  



8. transitive ~ sth to say or state sth
She was clearly speaking the truth.
He spoke the final words of the play.
more at actions speak louder than words at  action  n., speak/talk of the devil at  devil, the facts speak for themselves at  fact, speak/think ill of sb at  ill  n., speak/talk the same language at  language, in a manner of speaking at  manner, strictly speaking at  strictly, speak/talk out of turn at  turn  n.
Idioms: generally/broadly/roughly/relatively speaking no … to speak of  on speaking terms  so to speak  speak for itself  speak for myself  speak for yourself  speak ill of somebody  speak out of turn  speak volumes  speak your mind  speaking  speaking as something
Derived: speak for somebody  speak of something  speak out  speak to somebody  speak up
Word Origin:
Old English sprecan, later specan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch spreken and German sprechen.  
speak verb
1. I
Can I speak to Paddy?
talkchatdiscusscommunicateconsultdebate|formal confer
speak/talk/chat/discuss sth/communicate/consult/debate/confer with sb
speak/talk to sb
speak/talk of sth
Speak or talk? Speak can suggest a more formal level of communication than talk. You talk to sb in order to be friendly or to ask their advice. You speak to sb to try to achieve a particular goal or to tell them to do sth
‘What were you two talking about?’ ‘Oh, this and that.’
Have you talked to your parents about the problems you're having?
I've spoken to Ed about it and he's promised not to let it happen again.
2. I
Please speak more slowly.
speak/talk/say sth to sb
speak/talk/say sth about sth
They were speaking/talking (in) French.
Speak or talk? If sb can't speak they are physically unable to speak because of illness, disability or emotion. If you are talking about a baby who has not learned to talk yet, use talk.
3. I
She speaks of him with great affection.
mentionrefer to sb/sth|formal allude to sb/sth
speak of/mention/refer to/allude to sb/sth as sth
sb is frequently/often spoken of/mentioned/referred to/alluded to 
Word Family:
speak verb
speaker noun
speech noun
spoken adjective (≠ unspoken) 
Language Bank:
Ways of saying ‘in general’
Women generally earn less than men.
Generally speaking , jobs traditionally done by women are paid at a lower rate than those traditionally done by men.
In general / By and large , women do not earn as much as men.
Certain jobs, like nursing and cleaning, are still mainly carried out by women.
Senior management posts are predominantly held by men.
Most senior management posts tend to be held by men.
Women are, for the most part , still paid less than men.
Economic and social factors are, to a large extent , responsible for women being concentrated in low-paid jobs.
Language Banks at conclusion, except, similarly  
refer to sb/sth speak cite quote
These words all mean to write or speak about sb/sth, often in order to give an example or prove sth.
mentionto write or speak about sth/sb, especially without giving much information: Nobody mentioned anything to me about it.
refer to sb/sth(rather formal) to mention or speak about sb/sth: I promised not to refer to the matter again.
speakto mention or describe sb/sth: Witnesses spoke of a great ball of flame.
cite(formal) to mention sth as a reason or an example, or in order to support what you are saying: He cited his heavy workload as the reason for his breakdown.
quoteto mention an example of sth to support what you are saying: Can you quote me an instance of when this happened?
cite or quote?
You can cite reasons or examples, but you can only quote examples: He quoted his heavy workload as the reason for his breakdown. Cite is a more formal word than quote and is often used in more formal situations, for example in descriptions of legal cases.
to mention/refer to/speak of/cite/quote sb/sth as sb/sth
to mention/refer to/cite/quote a(n) example/instance/case of sth
frequently/often mentioned/referred to/spoken of/cited/quoted
the example mentioned/referred to/cited/quoted above/earlier/previously  
discuss speak communicate debate consult
These words all mean to share news, information, ideas or feelings with another person or other people, especially by talking with them.
talkto speak in order to give information, express feelings or share ideas: We talked on the phone for over an hour.
discuss(rather formal) to talk and share ideas on a subject or problem with other people, especially in order to decide sth: Have you discussed the problem with anyone?
You cannot say ‘discuss about sth’: I'm not prepared to discuss about this on the phone.
speakto talk to sb about sth; to have a conversation with sb: I've spoken to the manager about it. ‘Can I speak to Susan?’ ‘Speaking.’ (= at the beginning of a telephone conversation)
talk or speak?
Speak can suggest a more formal level of communication than talk. You speak to sb about sth to try to achieve a particular goal or to tell them to do sth. You talk to sb in order to be friendly or to ask their advice: Have you talked to your parents about the problems you're having? I've spoken to Ed about it and he's promised not to let it happen again.
communicate(rather formal) to exchange information or ideas with sb: We only communicate by email. Dolphins use sound to communicate with each other.
Communicate is often used when the speaker wants to draw attention to the means of communication used.
debateto discuss sth, especially formally, before making a decisionor finding a solution: Politicians will be debating the bill later this week.
consult(rather formal) to discuss sth with sb in order to get their permission for sth, or to help you make a decision: You shouldn't have done it without consulting me.
to talk/discuss sth/speak/communicate/debate/consult with sb
to talk/speak to sb
to talk/speak to sb/consult sb about sth
to talk/speak of sth 
Example Bank:
Ed and Dave aren't speaking at the moment.
Everyone should have the right to speak their mind.
He lost his ability to speak.
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
He speaks German fluently.
He speaks very warmly of you.
He spoke out against mismanagement.
He will be speaking to history students about the causes of war.
I didn't get a chance to speak to him.
I heard him speak at the debating society.
I need to speak to Joseph about this matter.
I speak for all my colleagues.
I speak on behalf of many thousands of women.
I'm speaking from experience, having been there often.
No one had ever dared speak to him like that before.
She opened her mouth to speak and found she couldn't.
She speaks on women's issues.
She spoke eloquently about the need for action.
She was invited to speak at a Harvard conference.
She was so moved she could hardly speak.
Speaking of Brett, why isn't he here?
The ability to speak another language is a valued skill.
The main character speaks directly into the camera.
They had the courage to speak the truth.
We are still on speaking terms after the argument.
We spoke briefly on the phone.
Would you prefer it if we spoke in French?
You must speak loudly and clearly on the stage.
learning to speak a foreign language
‘Can I speak to Susan?’ ‘Speaking.’
‘Do you know him?’ ‘Not to speak to.’.
He can't speak because of a throat infection.
He was so afraid of breaking down he couldn't trust himself to speak.
I've spoken to Ed about it and he's promised not to let it happen again.
I've spoken to the manager about it.
She speaks several languages/a little Urdu/an unusual dialect.
• Speaking of travelling, are you going anywhere exciting this year?

• What language are they speaking in?

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary


-speak (SPECIAL LANGUAGE)/-spiːk/
used to form nouns to mean the special language used in a particular subject area or business:

speak (LANGUAGE) /spiːk/
verb [T] spoke, spoken
to (be able to) talk in a language:
He speaks fluent French.
How many foreign languages do you speak?
I couldn't speak a word of (= I did not know any) Spanish when I got there.
I couldn't work out what language they were speaking.

speak (SUGGEST) /spiːk/
verb [I + adverb or preposition; T] spoke, spoken LITERARY
to show or express something without using words:
She was silent, but her eyes spoke her real feelings for him.
The whole robbery spoke of (= made it seem that there had been) inside knowledge on the part of the criminals.


speak (FORMAL TALK) /spiːk/
verb [I] spoke, spoken
to give a formal talk to a group of people:
Who is speaking in the debate tonight?
The Queen speaks to the nation on television every Christmas.
Janet is speaking for the motion (= trying to persuade the people listening that the idea is good) and Peter is speaking against (it) (= trying to persuade them that it is bad).

speaker /ˈspiː.kəʳ/ US /-kɚ/
noun [C]
a person who gives a speech at a public event:
a good public speaker
Please join with me in thanking our guest speaker tonight.
The Democrats have chosen the Texas state treasurer as the keynote (= most important) speaker at their convention.

Speaker /ˈspiː.kəʳ/ US /-kɚ/
noun [C]
the person who controls the way in which business is done in an organization which makes laws, such as a parliament:
He served for eight years as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
[as form of address] Mr Speaker, my honourable friend has failed to consider the consequences of his proposal.


speak (LANGUAGE) /spiːk/
verb [T] spoke, spoken
to (be able to) talk in a language:
He speaks fluent French.
How many foreign languages do you speak?
I couldn't speak a word of (= I did not know any) Spanish when I got there.
I couldn't work out what language they were speaking.

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary


(speaks, speaking, spoke, spoken)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

When you speak, you use your voice in order to say something.
He tried to speak, but for once, his voice had left him...
I rang the hotel and spoke to Louie...
She says she must speak with you at once...
She cried when she spoke of Oliver.
...as I spoke these idiotic words.
VERB: V, V to/with n, V to/with n, V of/about n, V n

Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary: 


speak /ˈspiːk/ verb speaks; spoke /ˈspoʊk/; spo·ken /ˈspoʊkən/; speak·ing
1 a [no obj] : to say words in order to express your thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc., to someone : to talk to someone
• Have you two spoken since yesterday?
• She and I spoke this morning.
• He never speaks at the meetings.
• Without speaking, she walked from the room.
• They were speaking in Japanese.
- often + to
• We need to speak to our son's teacher about his grades.
• He spoke to the police through an interpreter.
• They spoke to each other in a whisper.
- often + with in U.S. English
• The coach refused to speak with the reporters.
• May I speak with you privately?
• I spoke with him on the phone yesterday.
- often used at the beginning of telephone conversations
• “Hello. May I speak to Noah?” “Speaking.” [=I am Noah]
• “Hello. This is Noah speaking.”
b [no obj] : to talk about a particular subject or person - often + about or of
• She spoke intelligently about the current political situation.
• He still speaks of his ex-wife with affection.
• The company is doing very well, financially speaking. [=is doing very well financially]
c [no obj] : to say words to express yourself in a particular way
• When I said you were my best friend, I was speaking sincerely.
Speaking personally, I don't think you should take the job. [=my personal opinion is that you should not take the job]
Generally speaking, people like her as a leader. [=people in general like her as a leader]
• The restaurant isn't too expensive, comparatively/relatively speaking. [=when compared to other restaurants]
Speaking as a student (myself), I'm concerned about the alarming increase in school violence.
d [+ obj] : to say (something) to someone
• She must be speaking the truth.
• Not a word was spoken between them the whole time.
• Don't be afraid to speak your mind. [=say what you think]
• Do not speak a word of this to anyone else. [=do not tell anyone else anything about this]
2 : to use your voice to say words

[no obj]

• He has laryngitis and can't speak.
• You're speaking too fast/loudly.
• She speaks with a Southern accent.
• I was so surprised I could hardly speak.
• She got a speaking part/role in the play. [=she got a part/role for which she says words]
• He has a very deep speaking voice. [=his voice is very deep when he speaks]

[+ obj]

• The singer speaks the last verse instead of singing it.
3 [no obj] : to be willing to talk to someone after having a disagreement, fight, etc.
• They haven't spoken since the argument two years ago.
• Are they still not speaking?
• He apologized, so I'm speaking with/to him again.
• They're not on speaking terms. [=they're not friendly and do not speak to each other]
4 [+ obj] : to use (a particular language) to talk to someone
• He can speak German and French.
• English is widely spoken in many parts of the world.
• We didn't know what language they were speaking.
• the Spanish-speaking population/world
• I can't speak a word of French. [=I do not know any French]
5 [no obj] : to talk about something formally to a group of people : to make or give a speech
• She was asked to speak at the conference.
• He has a talent for speaking to large audiences.
• While most of the senators spoke against tax increases, one senator spoke in favor of them.
• I have a speaking engagement [=I will be giving a speech] this evening.
- see also public speaking
actions speak louder than words
- see action
in a manner of speaking
- see manner
so to speak
- used to indicate that you are using words in an unusual or figurative way rather than a literal way
• We need to be all on the same wavelength, so to speak.
speak for [phrasal verb]
1 speak for (someone) : to express the thoughts or opinions of (someone)
• They chose him to speak for the group.
Speaking only for myself, I'm against the plan. [=I'm only expressing my own opinion when I say that I'm against the plan]
• “We don't want any dessert.” “Speak for yourself. I want some.”
- often used figuratively
• I have nothing more to say. The facts speak for themselves. [=the facts clearly show what is true]
2 speak for (something or someone) chiefly US : to show that (something or someone) does or does not deserve to be praised, admired, etc.
• It speaks well for [=says a lot for] the company that it donates so much money to local charities.
• Her calm reaction to the crisis speaks well for her ability to perform under pressure.
• The test results speak poorly for our school system.
3 be spoken for : to not be available because of already being claimed by someone else or in a relationship with someone else
• I'm sorry. This seat is spoken for.
• I can't go out with you; I'm already spoken for.
speak of [phrasal verb]
1 speak of (someone or something) : to talk or write about (someone or something) : to mention (a subject) in speech or writing
Speaking of Jill, where is she?
• It was the first time she spoke of going to law school.
• She never speaks of her suffering during the war.
• In the letter, he spoke of feeling ill.
2 speak of (something) : to indicate or suggest (something)
• His diaries speak of a troubled mind. [=they show that he had a troubled mind]
3 speak of (someone or something)
a : to talk about (someone or something) in a specified way
• He spoke well/highly/favorably of both job candidates.
b chiefly US : to show that (someone or something) does or does not deserve to be praised, admired, etc.
• The continued success of the business speaks well of their judgment. [=shows that their judgment is good]
• Her bad behavior speaks poorly of her upbringing.
speak of the devil
- see devil
speak out [phrasal verb] : to speak freely and confidently about something : to express an opinion in an open way
• She is never afraid to speak out on controversial issues.
- often + against
• Protesters spoke out against the decision.
speak the same language
- see language
speak up [phrasal verb]
1 : to speak loudly and clearly
• “Speak up. I can't hear you.”
2 : to speak at a meeting, in a class, etc.
• Seeing that no one was going to answer the teacher's question, he decided to speak up.
3 : to speak freely and confidently about something : to express an opinion openly
• Several of us decided to speak up about our working conditions.
- often + for
• She is always ready to speak up for animal rights.
speak volumes
- see volume
speak your mind
- see 1mind
to speak of : worth mentioning or noticing
• There was no progress to speak of. synonyms speak and talk mean to express yourself by saying words. speak refers to anything that is said, whether it is understood or not and whether it is heard or not.
• What language are they speaking?
• She spoke to the class. talk suggests that there is a listener who understands what is said and often that both people do some speaking.
• Do you have time to talk?
• We talked about school.


  1. What's the official language of your country? Are there other languages spoken as well?
  2. How many languages can you speak?
  3. Are you planning to learn another language? What languages would you like to learn? Why?
  4. Are you good at learning languages? What makes you a good/bad learner?
  5. How long have you been learning English? Why are you learning English?
  6. Can you communicate with English speaking people with your current knowledge of English language?
  7. What's the most difficult language to learn? What makes it difficult for you?
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