Knowing When to Use the Verbs to Speak & to Talk

Speak vs Talk

The verbs speak and talk share similar definitions. They both generally mean communication using the mouth. Despite that shared general meaning, they are not interchangeable.

In this Grey Tech grammar moment, I explain the specific context of both speak and talk.

Focusing on the Verb Speak

If only one person is producing words and others are listening, the verb to speak is correct.

However, if two or more people take turns producing words and listening, the verb to talk is correct.

Another way to distinguish speak from talk is how formal the setting is.

For example, the king speaks to his people but talks with his wife.

In the first half of the previous example, the verb to speak is used in a formal setting where the king is the only one producing words.

In this second half of that example, the setting is informal with the royal couple conversing.

Examples of to speak in the present tense 
  • She always speaks quietly.
  • Speak slowly.
  • I speak English.
Examples of to speak in the past tense
  • The principal spoke sternly to the two girls.
  • They spoke to the manager about the poor quality of service.
  • He spoke longer than his allotted time.

Focusing on the Verb Talk

While speak is for formal settings, talk is for informal settings. Talk is the word to use when referring to a conversation or a discussion of two or more people.

 Examples Using the Present Tense of Talk
  • Your father and I will talk about it.
  • My friends and I always talk on Skype.
  • He loves to talk about it.
Examples Using the Past Tense of Talk
  • They talked for three hours before they found a solution.
  • I talked until I lost my voice.
  • The twins talked all night.


Use the verb to speak when only one person is producing words and in more formal settings. Use the verb to talk when referring to a conversation and during informal settings.

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Cracking the Case. Knowing when to Use I and Me.

Is It Me, or I?

The English pronouns, I and me, are small words that confuse many people. They should not, but I understand why they do. In this article, I have cracked the case of the elusive first person pronouns.

Types of English Pronouns

So, why have four words to describe one person? The answer is that each of those pronouns performs a unique role in the English language. These pronouns fall under the grammatical category, case. The English language has three cases, subjective (I), objective, (me), and possessive (my) and (mine).

Those might be unfamiliar, depending on your generation. Older generations may know them as nominative (I), accusative (me), and genitive (mine). Let’s explore both pronouns, I and me, separately.

Correct Usage of the English Pronoun, I.

The pronoun, I, is the subject of a sentence. That means the person performing the action.


 I woke up.

 I paid for lunch.

 I write songs.

When you and another person performs the action of a sentence, the pronoun, I, is required.

My sister and I are dentists.

Tom and I graduated today.

Today, Julie and I went to the movies.

A mistake frequently made happens in sentences like the previous three where the pronoun, me, is used instead of I.


Yesterday, my sister and I went to the movies.

Yesterday, my sister went to the movies.

Yesterday, I went to the movies.

The pronoun, I, is the only correct choice. Let’s find out why the pronoun, me, cannot be used in that role of a sentence.

The Correct Use of the English Pronoun, Me.

The next pronoun to discuss is me. The pronoun, me, belongs to the objective case. In other words, the role that objective case pronouns receive the action of the verb.


My teacher gave me a compliment today.

He told me a horrific secret that I wish he hadn’t.

My grandmother often sang me to sleep.

Problems arise when you and another person receive the subject’s action.


Her mother took Nadia and me to the movies.

In the previous example, the person telling the story is the word me. The correct pronoun in that role is also me. Here’s why. First, three people went to the movies, Nadia, her mother, and the speaker (me). Nadia’s mom took her to the movies. Her mom also took me to the movies. Therefore, Nadia’s mom took both Nadia and took me to the movies.

Unless Nadia’s mother is Uma Thurman and this is the movie Kill Bill 3, there was no eye (I) taken (to the movies). When you and more or more people receive the action use and me.              


You will be able to see my mother, my brother, and me in the video.

The objective pronoun, me, always follows prepositions.


He yelled at me.

Give it to me?

The cat loves to sleep on me.

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It Takes an Instant to Travel from Clever to Clod. Definitions of 15 Words that You Think You Know, but You Don’t

15 Frequently Misused Words 

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

That famous proverbial phrase from the poem An Essay on Criticism, Part II, 1711, by the English poet, Alexander Pope, reminds each of us to practice forgiveness to human imperfection. Whether it was a memory slip, a simple mistake, or was learned incorrectly, there are some words in the English language that many people use incorrectly. This article reveals the actual meanings of 15 words misused all the time.

Distinguishing the False from the True 


You think it means something unfortunate.

The actual meaning is a mockery or a parody.


You think it means disinclined because it sounds similar.

The actual meaning is something detrimental.


You think it means the feeling associated with ejecting the stomach contents through the mouth.

The actual meaning is an offensive smell or taste; to bring about feelings of illness.


You think it means something enormous or huge.

The actual meaning is evil or profoundly immoral.


You think it means to be bored.

The actual meaning refers to neutral feelings.


You think it means a severe.

The actual meaning is over the course of a long time.

E. g.

You think it means in other words.

The actual meaning is for example.


You think it means a lot of something.

The actual meaning is an overabundance; more than is needed.


You think it means to energize because it sounds similar to innervate.

The actual meaning is to weaken.


You think it means something fortunate.

The actual meaning is an unplanned or coincidental event.


You think it means something commendable; fantastic.

The actual meaning is something inspiring fear; horrific.


You think it means something delicious.

The actual meaning is having a soapy or greasy feel; excessively flattering.


You think it means suspended from the neck until dead.

The actual meaning refers to a suspended object.


You think it means to be bored.

The actual meaning is bewildered.


You think it means spoken; or oral.

The actual meaning refers to the linguistic form.


You think it means a significant amount or quantity.

The actual meaning is unnecessary; more than needed.


You think it means likely to spread infection.

The actual meaning is spread from one person to another by direct or indirect contact.

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How to Create a Combined Superscript-Subscript Symbol in Word

music theory example


Superscripts and subscripts are letters and numbers that appear slightly above or below the main text, respectively. Each day, we encounter and use superscripts in various ways.

Examples of superscripts that we encounter daily appear in ordinal numbers such as 1st or 4th;  the “degree” symbol in temperature °F or °C; and in mathematics when working with an exponent (power number) as in 33.

Here, are a two more examples of superscripts that are not regularly encountered unless you are reading or writing an academic paper that conforms to MLA style guide or you are a musician.

An example of a superscript symbol in academic writing can be found at the end of the following sentence. That number that corresponds to the same number of the Works Cited section2

In music theory and keyboard harmony, the Roman numeral indicates the triad built on the corresponding scale degree while the Arabic numerals indicate chord inversion, and if there are more than three different pitches in the chord, e.g., I6, ii4, V7.

Subscripts are less common than superscripts and usually not encountered daily unless you work in certain fields. One area where subscripts are common in chemistry used to indicate the number of atoms or protons, respectively N2 or 8O.

Music is another field where subscripts occur regularly. In music, subscripts indicate an altered cord as in♭III. In the field of computer science, subscripts occur regularly to indicate a number system as in 2010.

The combination of the superscript and the subscript is not encountered daily. The combined superscript and subscript is limited to certain disciplines like math and chemistry.

Examples of Combined Superscript and Subscript Symbols

For that reason, some may not have encountered the combined superscript-subscript symbol before. The images A1 through A4 are examples of combined superscript-subscript symbols.



music theory example

Music theory example


math example

Math example


math example

Math example

chemistry example

Chemistry example

Some readers may be familiar with the concept of combined superscript and subscript symbols but do not know how to create it and need to know it for an assignment, report, or an article.

Such professionals include academic writers, chemistry, professional mathematicians, astronomers, and physicists. 
Rest easy, you’ve come to the right place. In the following section, we’ll create simultaneous superscript and subscript symbols in MS. Word. 

Creating Combined Superscripts and Subscripts

Now, I’ll show you how I created the model (See B1) for this how-to article. 



Reduce the numbers to balance out the letter U

The Process

1. First, open a new Word document.
2. Next, arrange the numbers and letters into columns from left to right and top to bottom.
Tutorial image-1

Arrange symbols in order

The result is 9|32|54| U (without the vertical lines), but add a single space where I have a line.



Group the symbols

3. Then, select the number 9, it is the first number that’s made a superscript.

Highlight number 9 to superscript it.

4. Click the superscript button located in the toolbar.

Click the superscript button



4. That tells Word to superscript the highlighted character, the number nine in our case.


Number 9 as a superscript

5. The other numbers that need to be converted to superscripts are the numbers 3 and 5. Follow the same procedure used to superscript the number nine, begin by highlighting the number three. The following image shows the numbers nine, three, and five as superscripts.

Superscript the numbers 3 and 5.

 7. The next step is to make the numbers two and four subscripts. Begin by highlighting the number two (See Image B6). 


Highlight the number 2.

8. Click the subscript button located in the toolbar.

Click the Subscript button

 9.  Image B8 shows the number two as a subscript. 

Number 2 as a subscript

10. Do the same to make the number four a subscript. 

Both the numbers 2 and 4 as subscripts

At this point, they are still adjacent numbers, not vertically aligned. The Advanced Font tool is used to align the superscript and subscripts vertically. This tool makes it possible to position every character with exceptional precision. The superscript numbers nine, three, and five must be raised so that the subscript numbers, two and four, can be positioned beneath the three and five, respectively.
11. Highlight the number nine.

Highlight the superscript number 9

12. To access the Advanced Font tool, click Format from the top menu bar, then choose Font.

Select Format, then font.

13. On the Font window, you’ll see two buttons, Font and Advanced. Click the Advanced button. Click the Advanced button.



Click the Advanced button

14. On the Advance window, there are several drop-down fields. Go to one labeled “Position”. 

Go to the Position drop-down menu

15. Click on the drop-down list located to the right of the word “Position.” Select “Raised.” 

Choose “Raised” on the drop-down menu

16. To the right of the “Raised” drop-down list is the word “By” and there is a field to the right of that.  Set the amount raised to “7 pt”.  

Set the By field to 7 pt

17. Highlight the number 3.

Highlight number 3

18. Repeat these steps to raise the superscript numbers 3.

Superscript number 3 raised up

19. Repeat for the superscript number 5.

Raise the superscript number 5

21. The next step is the reposition the subscript number 2 beneath the superscript number 3. When repositioning subscripts, highlight the number that will be above it, the superscript number 3.

Highlight the superscript number 3

22. Once highlighted, click “Format” and then “Font” from the top menu.

Select Format, then font.

23. Then, click the “Advanced” button in the “Font” pop-up window.

Click the Advanced button

24. If you highlighted the superscript number 3, then, it will look like this



The Font window with previous setting

25.  Go to the “Spacing” drop-down menu, select “Condensed”.


Choose Condensed


26. Condense by six points (6 pts).



Set Condensed by six points (pt)


27.  Click “OK.”



Subscript 2 now beneath superscript 3

28. Repeat steps to move the subscript number 4 beneath superscript number 5.


Subscript number 4 positioned beneath superscript number 5.

29. All the numbers are vertically aligned correctly, but there is too much space between columns. Place the cursor in front of the superscript number 3 and press the delete key one time.


Move the second column a single space to the left.

30. Move the third next to the second.


Move the third column a single space to the left.

31. Now, move the letter U a single space left.


Move the letter U to the left

32. To improve aesthetic, reduce the superscripts and subscripts in font size to complement the U.


The finished product


Making the combined superscript-subscript symbol in MS Word is not difficult but there are a few important things to remember. The first is the order of the four key functional tools (superscript, subscript, raised, and condensed).

The second is to highlight the superscript symbol to the immediate left of the subscript symbol before repositioning (condensing) it.

Finally, although raising by 7 points and condensing by 6 points has worked well for me, you may need to experiment when using the raising and condensing commands due to the small differences that exist between fonts.   

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