Why can't I use "with" instead of "to"?

For example: "Did you talk to Maria?" instead of "Did you talk with Maria?"

  • 2
    Why can’t you?
    – tchrist
    Apr 24 '17 at 16:27
  • They rarely do, but talk/speak to should refer to a monologue and … with to a two-way conversation. If fact, isn’t the only time that really applies when in anger we say I’ll give him a good talking to or You can bet I’ll be speaking to her,? Could speak/talk be following in the footsteps of meet? Even 50 years ago Brits either met or had/held meetings with people; never met with. Now, it’s hard to remember why we insisted there should be no grammatical difference between encountering someone for the first time and attending an appointed discussion but we did. May 16 '17 at 18:46

In fact "talk with" is grammatically correct, as the 2 members have pointed out in the earlier answer and comment. The form "talk to" is found rather more often used, though "talk with" is not uncommon by any means. Interestingly, there seems to be a subtle difference between "talking to" and "talking with" someone in terms of the finer shades of meaning, as in

I talked to her before school and returned her library book.

I talked with her for a few minutes in the evening on the way home.

They plan to talk to the warden about the frequent power failures.

They used to talk with their friends on the back porch or on the beach.

This usage of "talk to" seems to indicate brief conversation about something specific whereas "talk with" hints at somewhat longer and more general conversation that is a way of 'spending time together'.

However the two forms can often be used interchangeably as in

She talked to her friends for hours on the phone.

She talked with her friends for hours on the phone.

They are no longer talking to each other.

They are no longer talking with each other.

The same general meaning applies for speak to and speak with as well.

Therefore you can TALK WITH Maria, or TALK TO her!

  • Being British I rarely, if ever, use talk with. It is essentially an American idiom - very user friendly, cuddly, and gentle. And I can understand why it is used. But as far as I'm concerned only sissies talk with people - real men talk to them.
    – WS2
    Apr 24 '17 at 23:12
  • The Americans also visit with their friends, neighbors and relatives. Apr 24 '17 at 23:27
  • Indeed they do, and I often wonder why they don't simply visit them.
    – WS2
    Apr 25 '17 at 6:45

Whilst "talk with Maria" is technically grammatically correct, it is preferred to use "to" when dealing with verbs like talk, which are known as action verbs. In this case, the verb "talk" is directed at Maria, so "to" would be used instead of "with".

To simplify it, which is grammatically correct?:

"He said to me"


"He said with me"

  • I don't think "said to" and "said with" form quite the right comparison with "talk to" and "talk with" -- but I can't explain why not. The experts here can tell us the fine difference. Apr 24 '17 at 17:37
  • 1
    In fact "he said with me" is grammatically correct when it suggests that "he and I said together..." as in he said with me a few words of Our Lord's prayer before embarking on his pilgrimage. Apr 24 '17 at 17:38
  • Thank you so much, to each and every one of you, who had time to answer my question. Y'all have a good day <3 Apr 24 '17 at 18:23
  • You are welcome, and we are happy to help you! Apr 24 '17 at 21:38
  • Another point of comparison might be "spoke to" and "spoke with." The core meanings may differ subtly, but idiomatically people use both forms quite often and with considerable overlap in meaning. I think it's a mistake to suppose that English in general gravitates toward one correct form of a verb + preposition combination and deems all others incorrect. There are certainly many instances where it does, but I wouldn't make that phenomenon my default expectation.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 25 '17 at 4:00

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