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Do you speak a language or speak in a language when asking if someone has been practising it?

For example, which of these is better:

A: Have you spoken English recently?
B: Have you spoken in English recently?

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    I would ask, "Have you practiced speaking English recently?" That puts the emphasis on speaking. I might also ask, "Have you practiced speaking in English recently?" That puts the emphasis on English as opposed to another language. Either is correct but one has a different emphasis from the other. – Edward Barnard Oct 4 '19 at 15:41
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    The obvious one here is: Have you spoken English recently. versus: He spoke in English to the class, for example. Your "in" one just would not be used. – Lambie Oct 4 '19 at 16:57
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To speak a language can refer to specific acts of speaking, or to one's ability, or customary behaviour.

To speak in a language is used only for specific acts of speaking.

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Have you spoken English recently?

Have you spoken in English recently?

There is not much difference syntacticaly but the use of the preposition in makes some difference in meaning. I think in a monolingual country like England, you can not ask Have you spoken in English?

In a Multilingual country one may ask Have you spoken in English recently?

When there is no choice, we speak a language.When there is choice we may speak in a language.

Everybody expected that The Indian Prime Minister would speak at the UNO conference In English but he spoke in Hindi.

I think there is a slight difference between the two.

We speak a language, means speaks naturally probably as our mother tongue or with native like fluency.

If we speak in a language, we may not have that naturalness or native like fluency.

He spoke English very authoritatively

but not

He spoke in English very authoritatively. ✗

I tried speaking in English but I found it difficult.

A nonnative speaker starts speaking in English and starts speaking it after he/she has mastered it.

Here are two links which make the difference clear

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/218506/speak-english-vs-speak-in-english

https://www.englishforums.com/English/SpeakEnglishSpeakEnglish/zdxxw/post.htm .

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  • @Mari-Lou A.It is a long time since you cursed me.I am joking.Thank you for the edit.What about its correctness. – successive suspension Oct 5 '19 at 13:11
  • Not my downvote, actually I'm surprised that you received one. The only (small) defect I can find is the expression "not/felicity of expression" which you use to describe the meaning of "speaking a language". I'm not sure what you mean by them. The rest is perfectly good, but needed emphasis and some formatting. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '19 at 13:40
  • But, and this is why I didn't upvote it, there's no mention of the OP's example "Have you spoken English recently?" I get the "He spoke English authoritatively" mirrors the OP's example, but the tense is different and the OP is asking about practising one's English, so your example is good but a little removed from the OP's request. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '19 at 13:43
  • One last thing, I didn't curse you. I never curse anyone, to curse someone means to wish ill of them, to desire their suffering and pain. I have never said anything of the kind. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '19 at 13:47
  • @Mari-LouA.I was just joking.I know you are not that kind of woman.I have great respect for you.You have kept your word by placing a bounty on my question. You have been guiding me a lot since I became a member on this site – successive suspension Oct 5 '19 at 14:02

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