You are on page 1of 3


Grices Conversational Maxims

In an uttered discourse (conversation), there are some rules : 1. Principle of Quantity = a principle about the amount of information that speakers should give in a conversation in order for the conversation to be successful. - Rules: be informative and dont give more information than needed. 2. Principle of Quality = the value of the information given which has to be truthful and evidenced. 3. Principle of Relevance = the info given has to be focused on the actual topic of conversation. 4. Principle of Manner = the way in which the message or the information is conveyed to the listener. Moreover, the way in which this has to be done should be clear, ordered, unambiguous and brief. 1. Maxim of Quantity Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary. When two people involved in a conversation, exchange information in the form of spoken discourse, both the speaker and the receiver have to make their utterances as informative as necessary to answer a question or confirm a statement. The receiver has to respond to the question by giving all the necessary info the speaker is asking for. Otherwise the receiver will be regarded as uninformative and unable to lead a successful conversation. This is regarded as rude and impolite. Do not give more information than necessary. When two people are involved in a conversation they have to make sure that they dont give more information than necessary. A speaker should not give more information than requested because the other speaker has not asked for this information and he or she might also not be interested in the extra information. Giving more information than necessary is regarded as boring. Additionally, this speaker will appear nervous or unable to stick to the topic. 2. Maxim of Quality: Try to make your contribution truthful. As a speaker should make sure that all of his or her contributions are truthful and confirmed.

The speaker making a statement which he or she believes to be true has to be able to back up his or her statement as well as to identify the source of information.

Do not say what you believe to be false. The speaker and the receiver mustnt use statements which they believe to be false because this can affect the quality of the conversation as well as the credibility of that person not respecting this rule. Do not say something for which you lack adequate evidence. Making statements which you cant prove / show evidence is a violation of the principle for quality. Giving information which cant be confirmed is same as making contributions which arent correct. However, sometimes we still respond to something even though we dont have any evidence, and one of the reasons for this can be inability or the unwillingness to accept something. Do not say what you dont believe yourself. Both speakers have to make sure that they dont say thinks that they themselves dont believe even if they have evidence and know the source of information. Saying something that you yourself dont believe can be considered as lying. 3. Maxim of Relevance: Be relevant! The participants have to say things related to the topic of the conversation otherwise all of their contribution which arent connected with the topic of the conversation will b considered irrelevant Being irrelevant in a conversation gives the impression that that speaker has difficulties concentrating on the topic or understanding the question or even as avoiding the sought answer. Making irrelevant contributions, especially on purpose, give the impression of indifference and tell the other speaker that this speaker is not interested in having a conversation on the topic chosen by the other speaker, or doesnt want to have a conversation with that person at all. Sometimes speakers give irrelevant responses because they dont know what else to say or nervous. Dont give unnecessary information which is not connected to the topic. When participating in a conversation all the information given has to be important and necessary for the conversation to be appropriate. Giving unnecessary information can make the conversation boring and unproductive.

Do not give more information than necessary. Not all of the sentences are about the weather.

4. Maxim of Manner: What is the best manner of conveying a message in order for the conversation to be successful. These rules help the speakers avoid some of the most common mistakes in a conversation and they also help them to organize their utterances in an appropriate way. Avoid obscurity of expression. The communication should be clear. This rule teaches us not to say things which are confusing or not clear. The speakers should avoid obscurity because they will not be understood and the other speaker or listener will not be able to follow or even continue the conversation. Instead, speakers should try to make their contributions clear and comprehensive for the sake of having a successful conversation. Avoid ambiguity. The communication must unambiguous. Make sure that contributions are clear and unambiguous. Shouldnt have two meanings. We should avoid statement which will make the listener have doubts about our answer. Sometimes we give ambiguous answers when we dont want to tell the truth or when we try to avoid the truth for example when we are being diplomatic. Avoid unnecessary wordiness. The communication should be brief. The speakers should not extend their contribution more than necessary because this way of conveying a message can appear unorganized and boring. The speaker has to try to be as brief as possible and try to reduce the amount of the information presented to the needs for comprehension. Avoid giving unorganized information. The communication should be orderly. We should organize the utterances in terms of importance, relevance and sequence of events. Organized contributions are much easier to follow and to remember. One should organize the utterances for the sake of better comprehension and better communication.