1. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Do you talk "to" someone, or do you talk "with" someone?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Infinitytruth, May 29, 2011.

    What are the differences and meanings inside of both of these? Are they both correct? Here's the sentence that has me wondering:

    "A grandfather was sitting with his grandson talking "with"(This is the word used, but I'm curious if "to" would be a better suit the sentence?) him about life.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    It depends on the context. If the grandfather is telling the grandson a story, or lecturing him -- not in a bad way, just where he does all of the talking -- it's "to." But if it's a mutual dialogue where he and the grandson both talk, it'd be "with."
     
  3. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I agree with Mallory: 'with' denotes a conversation, whereas 'to' denotes a story or a mostly single flow of dialogue.
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me? Well, I talk at people.

    Seriously, though, 'to' is probably the more widely accepted form. I second darkhaloangel's post, but I'll say that it really depends on how it flows. Sometimes 'with' just doesn't sound right.
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    agree with what the others have said.
     
  6. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    I also wondered whether it is appropriator to use to or with. I used unconcernedly both interchangeable. I was often confused in the way the poster was and now I can use it carefully and of course correctly. In fact there are so many such usages we need to be aware of as a writer. Talking ordinarily in the ordinary course of life does not demand us of such preciseness But when we have the accountability as a writer we must be very sure of what we use.

    Now it has been very clear to me that when I speak as a monologue and the other one is just listening, the way one delivers a discourse or lecture to a mass we must use 'to' but when we communicate there is a two way traffic and we must use 'with'.

    In fact every writer must have a book of usage and it would be a good companion.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Talking to people is often when just the one person talks, but talking with is usually a conversation between two or more people.
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Not sure if this is a sentence from a fiction story, or just a general question, but keep in mind the sure-fire way to get such a thing right is to simply demonstrate the action and let context and meanings dictate whether the reader feels it's talking 'to' or 'with' someone. Meaning, instead of stating or referring to action, you simply have that action and let the action speak louder than words, eh.
     
  9. McHamlet
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    McHamlet Member

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    I think focus above on the two-way versus one-way issue may be misleading. When we say "I talked to my friend yesterday" we aren't giving any information on how much we talked compared to him. We certainly aren't saying our friend didn't talk back, which is why we often say "I talked to my friend, he said he'd come" etc. Similarly with "with". In fact to "talk with" someone can be used when we want to emphasize that one-way advice or reprimand is being given as in "Oh, he did, did he. I'll have a talk with him." In fact, I vaguely remember reading in a grammar book once that that was the distinction i.e. somewhat the opposite of what is being said here.

    However the actual distinction is probably this (which I found in a similar form on another forum):

    'talk to' = indicates the simple action of talking.
    'talk with' = indicates an extended conversation.

    As I said, neither necessarily gives an indication of how much the other party/parties contributed though "talk to" could be a monologue with the other listening and "talked with" tends to suggest the other contributed something (although I still believe it is possible to use "I had a talk with him" to refer to the delivery of a stern lecture that might only have been met with sullen silence.)
     

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