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It seems that in most cases, the two are interchangeable. For example: Is it 說 /说 / shuō or 講 / 讲 / jiǎng for "to speak a language"?

Apart from fixed phrases, when would you use one rather than the other? When is only one suitable? Are there regional differences to this preference and what are they?

  • I remember learning that 講 is often used in Taiwan. – neubau Oct 9 '14 at 14:07
  • In Cantonese 說 is never used to mean speak or talk. 講 is used. – velut luna Jan 28 '15 at 10:41
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Generally, both are the same meaning of "speak". But still have a little difference:

"讲" usually used in oral Chinese,and sometimes it means speak by one person without others' opinion on the topic he talked about

"说" different from "讲", it always used in written chinese and refers to many people,they are discussing and expressing their different opinions or one express his opinion with others agree with that.

"讲"--(as a verb) to speak, to give a speech, to say something in a logical way
"说"--(as a verb) to say, to talk

"说" and "讲" can be tricky, when both 说 and 讲 are interchangeable, 讲 feels a little more colloquial whereas 说 is usually used on formal occasions.

Example: 说谎 = To tell a lie
         说明 = to explain (literally, say clear). 
         说不定 = perhaps/maybe.

Example when both are interchangeable
         说话/讲话 = speak/talk
         说故事/讲故事 = tell a story
         你说什么?/你讲什么? = What are you saying?
  • I heard it the other way around, that 讲 is more formal/written, and 说 is more colloquial/oral (which is what Marquis Lin mentions.) This could also be why I often hear 说 in speech in mainland China, but 讲 in speech in older people in Malaysia (and neubau mentions in Taiwan.) – Ming Oct 10 '14 at 0:53
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Sometimes 说 = 讲, in Chinese, one word may have a lot of different meaning, and a lot of words may have same meaning. In normal, 说 like we daily use to speak, 讲 like official statement which more formal.

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