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There is the following sentence in my grammar book:

John was talking, but nobody was listening to what he was saying.

Can I transform it into the next sentence and hold the same meaning?

John was talking, but nobody was listening to what he was talking about.

It seems pretty similar for me in that context.

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Yes the meaning should stay the same. But they have slightly different meanings. "Talking about" is the general context of what he is talking about. "Saying" is more of the exact words of what he is saying.

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  • I agree. To put it a different way, if John says "I really like the 1958 Edsel", then those words are what he is saying, but the 1958 Edsel is what he is talking about.
    – stangdon
    Jul 13 at 11:56
  • @stangdon, DialFrost wrote that "the meaning should stay the same" in that context.
    – Sergei
    Jul 13 at 12:33
  • Nobody could understand what he was talking about would be a more natural use of the phrase. Jul 13 at 13:31

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