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The verb talk usually has to preceding its complement/object:

(I) I talked to him about his misbehavior.

Is it idiomatic (and/or grammatical) to use with instead?

(II) I talked with him about his misbehavior. (?)

(III) Who did you talk with yesterday? (?)

I ask because an associate has claimed that with is not idiomatic with talk and therefore ungrammatical.

This online resource suggests the difference is semantic:

Usage varies, but generally 'talk to' indicates the simple action (as opposed to remaining silent), while 'talk with' suggests an extended conversation.

  • Americans, who use prepositions completely differently to us, talk with people all the time. In Britain we generally talk to our interlocutors, and they talk to us. In Britain 'talking with someone' implies you are both speaking at the same time, a bit like singing a duet. – WS2 Nov 18 '14 at 18:26
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    The reason with is more strongly associated with an extended conversation is simply that (superficially, at least) you might talk to someone without actually engaging in a two-way conversation. Monologues excepted, two-way conversations are likely to be longer. – FumbleFingers Nov 18 '14 at 18:29
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The simple answer is that talk collocates naturally with both to and with and that both talk to and talk with are grammatical.

Your recent edit of your question actually provides the semantic difference:

talk to indicates the activity of talking, followed by the listener as object

talk with implies conversation, discussion, and discursiveness

Some examples (with comments) appearing on different online dictionaries (most of which don't provide an explanation of the distinction):

a. Everyone was busily talking with their friends.

b. I need to talk to you.

c. Talk with your advisor.

d. It was no use talking to Anthony.

a. clearly connotes discussion

b. sounds might sound a bit stern, or as though the speaker will do most of the speaking, perhaps to inform the listener of bad news or admonish him/her

c. clearly connotes discussion

d. suggests Anthony doesn't listen, not just that Anthony doesn't like to converse

Is the distinction hard and fast? To my ear:

a. needs "with," not "to"

b. could use either

c. could use either, but better with "with"

d. could use either, but there may be a slight connotative difference

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Americans, who use prepositions completely differently to us, talk with people all the time.

In Britain we generally talk to our interlocutors, and they talk to us.

'Talking with someone' always sounds to me as though you are both speaking at the same time, a bit like singing a duet.

  • Google Books isn't always a good way of identifying a transatlantic usage divide, but I can't see much difference between the US chart and the UK one. – FumbleFingers Nov 18 '14 at 18:36
  • @FumbleFingers which just serves to emphasise, in my mind, that those things are not worth the paperless screen on which they appear. It recently emerged when someone did some checking that the UK usage included American editions of books written in the UK. – WS2 Nov 18 '14 at 18:43
  • @FumbleFingers But whoever is saying it is not using correct English are they. One can converse with, one can consult with, and one can discuss with, but one speaks to. I am troubled by the idea that English can be 'changed' simply because people simply don't know how to speak it. – WS2 Nov 18 '14 at 21:06
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    @WS2: Why be troubled? Language change is inevitable and unstoppable. – Rusty Tuba Nov 18 '14 at 21:15
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    @WS2: I have no interest in fashion, and therefore no interest in "correct". But when I read "talk with" in a sentence I generally conclude that the writer was American (or for an American audience, or ... ). It would be grammatical, but unidiomatic for me to say it. – Colin Fine Nov 18 '14 at 22:13

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