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I do not understand the difference between conversation (n) and talk (n). I am only interested in the difference in the following definitions:

conversation (n):

1: an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people : the act of talking in an informal way

talk (n):

1: an occurrence in which one person talks about something with another person : a conversation or discussion
2: the act of talking about a subject with another person or group : discussion or conversation

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary


Some examples to put it into concrete:

  • They had a talk/conversation while waiting at the dentist's.
  • The conversation/talk got unpleasant.
  • What sticks out at me from those definitions is that conversation is an informal talk, and talk seems more formal. "We need to talk about Kevin." – Andrew Leach Jun 30 '19 at 10:17
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    Note that "conversation" is necessarily two-way. "Talk" can be one-way. – Hot Licks Jun 30 '19 at 14:34
  • This may be true for other definitions of talk. But this does not fit to the above definitions to be examined here. "1: an occurrence in which one person talks about something with another person : a conversation or discussion." and "2: the act of talking about a subject with another person or group : discussion or conversation" – Wogehu Jul 2 '19 at 4:51
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The primary difference is that "conversation" is necessarily two-way -- two or more people interchanging utterances.

"Talk", on the other hand, may involve only a single person speaking, with everyone else in the room just listening (or perhaps ignoring the speaker). Of course, two people may "talk to each other", in which case they're having a conversation.

  • Quote: "Of course, two people may "talk to each other", in which case they're having a conversation." - Yes, and only in this case I am interested in the differences. Please have a look at the definitions above, who will be examined here. – Wogehu Jul 2 '19 at 4:56
  • @Wogehu - The dividing lines are not a sharp as you might want to believe. Certainly when someone in authority says "I'll have a talk with him" the implication is that the "information" will flow mainly in one direction, but tone of voice and general demeanor carry stronger indications. – Hot Licks Jul 2 '19 at 11:43

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