Is there any difference in meaning between speak an accent and speak in an accent? For example:

You put on your resume that you can speak a British accent. Could you demonstrate it?

You put on your resume that you can speak in a British accent. Could you demonstrate it?

  • 1
    "You put on your resume that you can speak with a British accent. Could you demonstrate it?" – Mark Hubbard Jul 14 at 15:36
  • The smart-aleck reply to the first question is of course 'Sure. "A British accent." See?' – TypeIA Jul 14 at 15:57

You speak a language, you don't speak an ‘accent’:

“Jorge is from Barcelona, he speaks Spanish and English. Although his English is very good, he speaks it with a strong Spanish accent.

From Longman Dictionary



have an accent

  • The man had a Spanish accent.

speak with an accent

  • She spoke with an accent that I couldn’t understand.

a strong/broad/thick/pronounced accent (=very noticeable)

  • She spoke with a strong Scottish accent.
  • a broad Australian accent

an upper-class/middle-class/working-class accent

  • Sebastian spoke with an upper-class accent.

You can also say “speak in a(n) adjective (language)”

From YouTube, a tutorial entitled: How To Speak In An American Accent
Funnily enough, the presenter is British and has a posh English accent.

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  • Note that it seems far more common to speak with an accent than to speak in an accent. (The use of in sounds odd to me, although not wrong.) – Jason Bassford Jul 15 at 18:53
  • @JasonBassford I would probably say that someone "speaks in a funny/strange/Spanish, British, French etc. or foreign accent" rather than "speaks with a foreign accent" a The word accent in the former, I feel, is often preceded by an adjective. – Mari-Lou A Jul 15 at 19:06

“Speak” means to say something, and you say words, not accents.

The correct way to say this is:

speak in a British accent

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  • @choster Thanks for that, I’m actually going to remove it from my answer as it’s extraneous and, as you point out, potentially hazardous! – Chris Mack Jul 14 at 19:17

We say that we speak a language as in

I speak Spanish

but we speak in an accent or with an accent

He speaks in a Geordie accent
She speaks in a Scouse accent

Where the first speaker comes from the north east of England and the second from Liverpool. There is not really a common British accent although people would probably understand you to mean you speak with an accent of educated people within the area immediately around London.

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  • 1
    A language isn't the only thing you can speak, for instance: "I speak the truth" – Chebi Jul 14 at 16:14
  • @Chebi that is perfectly true but I was trying to suggest a usage which might have been confused with accent. – mdewey Jul 14 at 16:21

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