What is the meaning of "of" in the following sentence, "We can speak of our concerns" ?

Why in this sentence do we use the preposition of? Should we not express the sentence in verb + object form without the preposition of.

What is the exact difference in the meaning between "We can speak of our concerns" and "We can speak our concerns" ?

  • Do you tell me that This sentenece, "We can speak our concerns" is wrong ? if so, why ?
    – user22046
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 8:52
  • @user22046 the same reason that I'm listening you is wrong. I'm listening to you. Collocation is at play here. We use certain verbs with certain prepositions in certain contexts.
    – Yuri
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:18
  • @user22046 It's wrong because speak is used intranstively. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:29
  • hmm.. She sings a song(right)..., ....We speak our concerns(wrong)...Why do these differences arise? Do we have to memorize this difference without easily identifying it?
    – user22046
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:31
  • @user22046 Rule of thumb: Most action verbs are transitive. But this rule wouldn't cover everything, keep a dictionary as your best friend. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:46

1 Answer 1


When you use speak in the sense of talk to someone about something it's always followed by an adverb or a preposition. For example,

I spoke to her last Wednesday.

They did not want to speak with reporters.

It was the first time she had ever spoken of marriage.

I know her by sight, but not to speak to.

About your question about meaning, I can roughly say of means about.

Source: LDOCE

  • @Lucian Sava I suppose this is a literary way to say give someone advice as if this is a particular type of language as in I don’t speak a word of French. Anyway, you might want to send your comment to LDOCE as an objection. May you get a propor answer. :)
    – Yuri
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 7:26
  • I don't know why. Subject + Verb + what? or who? = Direct Object. We can speak our concerns ==> subject:We. verb:speak. direct object:our concerns. Why in this sentence do we use the preposition of?
    – user22046
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 7:55
  • @user22046 I think the only way I can answer your question is to appeal to the concept of collocations which is the natural way that words go together and native speakers tend to use it that way e.g. you don't say he explained me this you say he explained this to me although the general rule for direct object and indirect object tells us this is possible as in he sent me flowers; people simply don't use explain in that way. I'm sure if you look into your own language you find plenty of these.
    – Yuri
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 8:04

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