Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the most appropriate verb to use with "talk" in the sense of "an informal address or lecture":

  • "To give a talk"?
  • "To present a talk"?
  • "To deliver a talk"?
  • Another completely different verb or phrase?
share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Personally I think present a talk sounds seriously wrong. Gibberish, to be honest. But apparently it does occur. Not so often as deliver a talk, which I have no problem with apart from the obvious fact that it's not what we normally say (to wit, give a talk, which is overwhelmingly the standard turn of phrase)...enter image description here

This graph is from Google's NGram Viewer, which indexes all the words in millions of books - including many written hundreds of years ago, as well as publications from recent decades. To give some idea of the actual numbers involved, give a talk appears about 5000 times in books published between 1995 and 2000 whereas present a talk only occurs about 250 times.

share|improve this answer
2  
Deliver a talk is probably due to deliver a speech. –  Cerberus Jun 15 '11 at 3:04
    
@Cerberus: Sounds convincing to me. Always assuming that "is due to..." is a euphemism for "is caused by ignorant bowlderisation of...". But "present a talk" is, well, just daft. :) –  FumbleFingers Jun 15 '11 at 3:13
    
But you can also "make a presentation" or "present a paper". So you get 16 choices: make/present/deliver/give a speech/presentation/paper/talk, of which maybe 7 are correct. No wonder these get confounded. –  Peter Shor Jun 15 '11 at 5:05
    
@FumbleFingers: Can you please make some explaining comments on your diagram? Where does the data come from? –  Rasmus Jun 15 '11 at 7:13
    
@Rasmus: I've added a note about how I created the chart. Including a link to NGram so you can go look for yourself if you want. –  FumbleFingers Jun 15 '11 at 14:42
show 5 more comments

The first would be the most informal of the three (though not actually "informal" per se), and probably suits your needs.

"Presenting" a talk is less common than "giving" a talk, and would only be used if there was a presentation associated with the talk.

Lastly, "Delivering" a talk is definitely the more formal than "giving" a talk, probably due to the fact that "delivering" something is always more impersonal than "giving" it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.