speak: make use of words in a normal voice.
May I speak to George?
talk: speak to give information, say things.
What are they talking about?
hesitate: be slow to speak (or act) because one is uncertain or unwilling to talk.
He hesitated before answering my question.
whisper: speak softly, without vibrating the vocal cords, privately or secretly.
She whispered the secret word in my ear.
hiss: say something in a loud whisper. (Snakes also hiss).
'Get out!' she hissed at me furiously.
mumble: speak unclearly, so that others can't hear.
He mumbled something at me which I didn't understand.
mutter: speak in a low voice, which is hard to hear.
She was muttering something to herself as she went out.
murmur: speak in a soft, quiet voice that is difficult to hear clearly.
The classmates murmured during the test.
hum: make a low continuous sound, when you take a long time deciding what to say.
She hummed at the beginning of the oral exam.
grunt: make short sounds or say a few words in a rough voice, when you don't want to talk. (Pigs also grunt).
She grunted a few words and left the table.
stammer: speak with pauses and repeating the same sound or syllable, habitually or from fear or excitement.
'P-p-please give me the p-p-pen,' he stammered.
'P-p-please give me the p-p-pen,' he stuttered.
quaver: speak tremulously, because you are nervous or upset.
Her voice quavered for a moment but then she regained control.
lisp: speak with /th/ sounds instead of /s/ sounds.
You're very thilly, Thimon. (You're very silly, Simon.)
babble = gabble: talk foolishly, in a way difficult to understand.
Her fever made her babble without stopping.
ramble: talk continuously, in a confused way.
Stop rambling and get to the point, please!
slur: speak unclearly, without separating the words correctly.
He was so drunk that he slurred to the bartender for more.
chat: have a friendly informal conversation.
They chatted away in the corner.
chatter: talk quickly and at length about something unimportant.
Please stop chattering, I'm trying to listen to the TV!
gossip: talk about the affairs of other people.
She was gossiping about her neighbours all day.
call: speak in a loud clear voice, shout, cry.
They called for help.
shout: speak in a loud voice, in anger or to get attention.
He had to shout because the music was too loud.
whoop: shout loudly and happily.
The children whooped when we entered the fair.
cry (out): make a sharp noise, in pain or surprise.
She cried out in terror when the old man appeared suddenly.
yell: cry out loudly, in fear, pain or excitement.
She yelled in terror when she saw the dead cat.
scream: cry out very loudly on a high note, in fear, pain, anger or laughter.
The baby was screaming the whole day.
The men shrieked with laughter.
bellow: shout in a deep voice.
The captain bellowed orders at the crew.
squeak: speak in a high-pitched voice.
She squeaked out a few words nervously.
squeal: speak in a high-pitched voice, with longer and louder sounds than in a squeak.
'Let me go!' she squealed.
whine: complain in a sad, annoying voice about something.
'I don't want to go,' whined Peter.
chirp / chirrup (GB): speak in a happy high voice.
'All finished!' she chirped.
cheer: shout because of happiness.
The public cheered when the team appeared.
croak: speak with a deep hoarse voice.
She had such a terrible cold that she could only croak.
blurt out: say something suddenly and tactlessly.
She blurted out the bad news before I could stop her.
snap: say something quickly in an angry way.
'What do you want?' the waiter snapped.
splutter: talk quickly in short confused phrases, in anger or
'But... what... where... how could you?' she spluttered.
bark (out): say something quickly in a loud voice.
'What do you want?' the shop assistant barked.
emit - communicate - pronounce - announce - ennunciate - mention - relate - narrate - retell - report - butt in - interrupt - discuss - argue - lecture - preach - define - state - assert - clarify - declare
We thank Alejandro Listrani (from Buenos Aires, Argentina), Eugenia Laguia (from
Pergamino, Argentina), Javier Alvarez Correa (from Merida, Spain), Romina
(from Buenos Aires, Argentina) and Agostina Marozzi (from Córdoba, Argentina) for their contribution.
Exercise - Ways of speaking - Difficult
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