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Chinese verbs of speaking and saying - 讲 or 说


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This is an interesting issue. As a native Southern Chinese speaker (my native fangyan or dialect is Minnan, a dialect of Southern Fujian province which is also spoken in Taiwan and numerous migrant communities all over South-east Asia), I always used 讲 or "jiang" meaning "to speak" or "to say" even when I speak standard Mandarin. In my native dialect it is pronounced "kong" (I haven't indicated the tones) and is the only word meaning "to speak" or "to say".

As foreign language learners, which word; "jiang" (讲) or "shuo" (说), were you taught to use? Did you learn to say ,"我讲话" or "我说话"?

I noticed than in Southern China, most dialects (there are some notable exceptions) use 讲. This seems to extend right up to the Shanghai, Suzhou and Ningbo areas. This carries over to the Mandarin that Southern Chinese people speak, using 讲 almost entirely except for a few set phrases like 我听说... or "I heard that...".

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thank you for sharing your thoughts about 讲 and 说。

I studied Chinese at Nanjing University 南京大学 and we actually learned both of them. I regularly overheard people saying 我给你讲。。。but also 就是说,你说。。 so it seemed that in Nanjing they use both of them in spoken Chinese. Also in the textbooks, I think I have seen both of them pretty regularly. I usually mix them a little bit so my Chinese does not sound so rudimental :=))

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After chatting with a friend from Henan who almost exclusively used 说, it seems that both are accepted usage. The difference is purely dialectal / idiolectal usage. Northern varieties of Mandarin normally used shuo 说 while Southern dialects use jiang 讲. but both are officially accepted with no discrimination. I guess that more central regions like Nanjing would regularly use both in free variation.

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  • 1 year later...

I started learning in high school and I only learned 说。  A few years later I took classes at a community college and still never learned 讲。

In fact this is good to know!  Now I have an idea of which areas might use it more, and that it is completely interchangeable. 

When you don't have a mentor around it can be hard to learn which words are situational, and which words are interchangeable.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I studied Chinese at university, and we learned 说 early on. We did learn 讲b later on, but by then I had already learned it because I watched a lot of movies from Hong Kong. ^_^

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  • 1 year later...
24 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

"讲" and "说" basically are the same.

我讲话= 我说话

Usually, "讲" is more formal than “说”

yes and depending on which area you are in China, there is a preference for using either 说 or 讲.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use 讲 more since I speak Cantonese. I never used 说 until I started learning Mandarin. 

What about the character "话" for speaking/saying? Anyone use "我话". It's also quite common in Cantonese. 

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