Saturday, 6 July 2013

Quick Tips from Really Learn English

Quick Tips

This time in the Quick Tips section I would like to share with you an interesting question I got from a teacher, together with my answer to it.
The question is the following:

Which one is more correct:
"Can I speak Italian?" 
"Can I speak in Italian"?

(by Franzoso E. from Italy)


To understand what is the real difference between these two sentences we must look into what each of them means:

1) "Can we speak Italian?"

2) "Can we speak in Italian?"
Let's see what the online Oxford dictionary has to say about it:

Speak something
 = to be able to use a particular language.
Example: "Do you speak English?"

Meaning: Are you able to speak English? Do you know it well enough to use it?
Example: "She can't speak French."

Meaning: She is not able to speak French. She doesn't know it well enough to use it.

Speak in something
 = to use a particular language to express yourself.

Example: "Would you prefer it if we spoke in German?"
Meaning: Would you prefer it if we used German to speak?
Example: "He dislikes speaking in English because of his accent."
Meaning: He dislikes using English to express himself because of his accent.
(Note: you can also use "speak something" in this meaning in sentences such as: "What language is it they're speaking?")

So, regarding our original question:

"Can I speak Italian?" means: "Do I know Italian well enough to use it?"


"Can I speak in Italian?" means: "May I use Italian to express myself?"

So that's about it for now.
See you next time! 


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