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メアリーと翔子は友達のトムのことを話しています。(A)

The English translation was given as "Mary and Shoko are talking about their friend Tom."

The following two sentences I guess would mean the same.

メアリーと翔子は友達のトムのことについて話しています。(B)

メアリーと翔子は友達のトムについて話しています。(C)

So how does the feeling differ between (A) and (B)? Do people say (B)? Do people say (C)? How does the feeling differ between (B) and (C)? Would anything change if they were talking about say a test rather than their friend Tom?

Sorry, if this is a duplicate. Please help explain what's happening here! よろしくおねがいします

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トムのこと has to be used when there is actually a concrete issue concerning Tom, and they're talking about that issue rather than Tom himself (i.e., if you want to say "Let's talk about the problem about Tom" rather than "Let's talk about something about Tom", you need to say トムのことを話しましょう or トムのことについて話しましょう). Otherwise, the difference between (A), (B) and (C) is very small, and they are all natural. You seem to know this, but トムを話す is incorrect.

See also: What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

  • Ok, thanks. トムを話す is incorrect, but トム is a noun just like こと. If they were talking about the color of his eyes, would either way work? (ie 目の色を話す ? 目の色について話す ?) – requiredandshown Dec 27 '17 at 18:13
  • Yes, トム and トムのこと are both nouns. I think you can use を only when the object is an intangible thing that comes out from your mouth. For example you can say 用件を話す or 英語を話す. 目の色を話す is incorrect. – naruto Dec 28 '17 at 1:19
  • Oooh, ok. So, is there any reason to choose one way over another? (を instead of について) You already said the difference (of meaning) is very small. The difference of usage is likewise as small? (eg writing vs speaking) – requiredandshown Dec 28 '17 at 21:23

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