Conversational Analysis

Conversational analysis is a tool used by sociolinguist to examine dialog between two or more people. The analysis can include such aspects as social factors, social dimensions, and other characteristics.

One unique tool in conversational analysis identifying adjacency pairs. Adjacency pairs are two-part utterances in which the second speaker is replying to something the first speaker said. In this post, we will look at the following examples of adjacency pairs.

  • Request-agreement
  • Question-Answer
  • Assessment-Agreement
  • Greeting-Greeting
  • Compliment-Acceptance
  • Conversational Concluder
  • Complaint-Apology
  • Blame-Denial
  • Threat-Counterthreat
  • Warning-Acknowledgement
  • Offer-Acceptance


Request involves asking someone to do something and agreement indicates that the person will do it. Below is an example

A: Could you open the window?
B: No problem


One person request information from another. THis is different from request agreement because there is no need to agree. Below is an example

A: Where are you from?
B: I am from Laos


Assessment seeks an opinion from someone and agreement is a positive position on the subject. The example is below

A: Do you like the food?
B: Yeah, it taste great!


Two people say hello to one another.

A: Hello
B: Hello


One person commends something about the other who shows appreciation for the comment.

A: I really like your shoes
B: Thank you

Conversational Concluder

This is a comment that singles the end of a conversation.

A: Goodbye
B: See you later


One person indicates they are not happy with something and the other person express regret over this.

A: The food is too spicy
B: We’re so sorry


One person accuses another who tries to defend himself.

A: You lost the phone?
B: No I didn’t!


Two people mutually resist each other.

A: Sit down or I will call your parents!
B: Make me


One person issues a threat or danger and the other indicates they understand

A: Look both ways before crossing the street
B: No problem


One person gives something and the other person shows appreciation

A: Here’s the money
B: Thank you so much


These kinds of conversational pairs appear whenever people talk. For the average person, this is not important. However, when trying to look at the context of a conversation tot understanding what is affecting the way people are speaking understanding and identifying adjacency pairs can be useful.

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