I've seen and heard both ways of saying it:

  • I had a talk to him lately
  • I had a talk with him recently

What is the difference between the two? Which one is more common? Which one is grammatically more valid? Are these two interchangeable?

  • 4
    Usage of "talk to him" is wrong in the given context. It is perfectly all right grammatically if used in a right context.
    – Mohit
    Feb 12, 2013 at 10:11
  • @Siddhartha: "I'm going to have to have a talk to him about his unacceptable language."
    – Matt
    Feb 12, 2013 at 18:18
  • Note that there's an idiomatic expression - talking-to - so the expression "I gave him a talking-to" means "I criticized/reprimanded him verbally". That said, the top-rated answer is correct - would you consider accepting it?
    – RuslanD
    May 4, 2020 at 4:55

4 Answers 4


The second is the normal way of putting it. To him normally follows the verb, with him, the noun. We’d say ‘I talked to him yesterday’, but ‘I had a talk with him yesterday.’


There can be a subtle difference.

'Recently' usually refers only to a time period.

'Lately' can also carry connotations that (in the context you mention) something noteworthy has occurred between the last time you talked to him (if it wasn't very recently) and now.

To illustrate, consider person A saying: "John is going to the concert on Saturday"

If person B replies: "Have you talked to him recently?", that would usually indicate that person B is speaking from curiosity; he is interested in any news about John that might have come up during the conversation.

If person B replies: "Have you talked to him lately?", that would probably suggest that person B knows something about John and a change in his concert attendance plans, that person A doesn't.

The above isn't set in concrete - and both words can be used in both circumstances confusing the issue further - but this is a fairly common usage pattern.


"I had a talk to him lately." is incorrect grammar. "I had a talk with him recently" is correct.
In these phrases, the verb is had, and "a talk" is a noun (the object). Therefore the prepositional phrase needs to be a state "with him", not "to him" which is an action.
You could say "I talked to him recently", where the verb "talk" is an action verb.
In these examples, "lately" sounds unnatural to me and I would use "recently" instead.


Both are correct, but talking to and with people are a bit different. When you talk to someone, you may be helping, instructing them. Talking with someone is what you do with a friend.

  • 4
    I can say "talk to someone", but "have a talk to someone" sounds wrong to me. Do people really say that? (I'm American, if that makes any difference.)
    – user230
    Feb 12, 2013 at 9:34
  • 1
    I agree that "talking to" and "talking with" have the difference in meaning you've described, but in the OP's question, "talk" is used as a NOUN. In that context, "talk with" is grammatical and "talk to" is not. Feb 12, 2013 at 14:23

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