In what case you would say "I speak things" instead of "I say things"?


I speak things means something like I proclaim things, pertaining authority, like I speak things into existence. I say things is way of normal discourse.

  • Canadians say things like "a" every second word.
  • I speak things I do not see as though they were.
  • I speak to my dog and he obeys.


I speak things faster than I think.

Which is only a problem if the things I speak have certain authority or effect. Usually I would use this phrase if the things I spoke had a proclaiming character and hurt a situation or person.

  • Thank You soooo much, Ralph, for these explanations. "I would use this phrase if the things I spoke had a proclaiming character and hurt a situation or person" - Do You think a situation when I give a toast at my friend's birthday party or a case with a professor teaching (lecturing) from a platform (lecturing desk) would also fall into that kind of category? – brilliant Nov 28 '10 at 16:06
  • 1
    @brilliant - What I meant is that speaking faster than I think usually hurts. A toast is a perfect situation to speak things - proclaim positive things over the future of a person. It is, if you are not careful and speak faster than you think, a perfect situation to intimidate or hurt that person. So both could apply. – malach Nov 28 '10 at 17:06
  • 1
    Are you suggesting that I could say "my best man spoke wonderful things at my wedding" or "today the professor spoke things I could not understand"? Those are awkward at best, or even potentially non-native sounding. Even "I speak things faster than I think" sounds awkward to me and "I speak things I do not see..." is certainly archaic. – Kosmonaut Nov 29 '10 at 17:25
  • @kosmonaut - not archaic, biblical and therefore most up to date (Heb 11:1). ;-) Unusual, I agree. – malach Nov 29 '10 at 17:28

In ordinary speech, "speak" does not take a direct object. You can be speaking, you can speak to somebody, but to "speak words" or "speak a message" is unusual and I would say literary. (I except idioms like "speak my mind" and "speak the truth", and also the construction "Speak English", where the language looks syntactically like a direct object, but I actually think it is a verbal modifier, like an adverb).

  • Well, Colin, I know that all too well, but what really interests me here is in what case people would say exactly this word-combination "speak things" (not "speak my mind", "speak the truth", etc.) I know "speak" usually doesn't take a direct object and it sounds a little strange or literary, yet I still want(ed) to know in what case people would still say "speak things". I think Ralph already answered my question quite well. – brilliant Nov 29 '10 at 16:30
  • 2
    Well, I would never say "I speak things" unless I was being deliberately pompous or archaic. – Colin Fine Nov 29 '10 at 17:08
  • @brilliant: I am inclined to agree with Coline Fine. Per your question, I would (almost?) never say "speak things" at all. I might write "speak things", but even that would be potentially archaic and certainly affected writing. – Kosmonaut Nov 29 '10 at 17:18
  • 1
    @brilliant: I would laugh... but if I retold it I would replace "speak things" with "speak" or "say things" :) – Kosmonaut Nov 30 '10 at 19:55
  • 1
    For me, "speaking things" is not something that even a professor would say to himself to mean "saying things in public". It simply does not have that meaning for me, without considerably more context. – Colin Fine Dec 2 '10 at 12:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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