Communicative Functions


• clarifying or arranging one’s ideas
• expressing one’s thoughts or feelings (love, joy, pleasure, happiness, surprise, likes and dislikes, satisfaction, disappointment, distress, pain, anger, anguish, fear, anxiety, sorrow, frustration, annoyance at missed opportunities, etc.)
• expressing moral, intellectual, and social concerns
• expressing the everyday feelings of hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleepiness, cold, and warmth


• greetings and leave-takings
• introducing people to others
• identifying oneself to others
• expressing joy at another’s success (or disappointment at another’s misfortune)
• expressing concern for other people’s welfare
• extending and accepting invitations
• refusing invitations politely or making alternative arrangements
• making appointments for meetings
• breaking appointments politely and arranging another mutually convenient time
• apologizing
• excusing oneself and accepting excuses for not meeting commitments
• indicating agreement or disagreement
• interrupting another speaker politely
• changing an embarrassing subject
• receiving visitors and paying visits to others
• arguing or debating
• offering food or drinks and accepting or declining such offers politely
• sharing wishes, hopes, desires, problems, beliefs, thoughts, opinions, etc.
• asking about others’ wishes, hopes, desires, problems, beliefs, thoughts, opinions, etc.
• making promises and committing oneself to some action
• complimenting someone
• making excuses


Directive functions attempt to influence the actions of others. These include:
• accepting or refusing direction
• making suggestions in which the speaker is included
• persuading someone to change his/her point of view
• requesting and granting permission
• requesting information
• asking for help and responding to a plea for help
• forbidding someone to do something; issuing a command
• giving and responding to instructions or directions
• warning someone
• discouraging someone from pursuing a course of action
• establishing guidelines and deadlines for the completion of actions
• asking for directions or instructions


• talking or reporting about things, actions, events, or people in the environment
• identifying items or people in the classroom, the school, the home, the community
• asking for a description of someone or something
• describing someone or something
• understanding messages or descriptions
• creating questions
• scanning or skimming for information
paraphrasing, summarizing, or translating (L1 to L2 or vice versa)
• interpreting information
• explaining or asking for explanations of how something works
• comparing or contrasting things
• discussing possibilities, probabilities, or capabilities of doing something
• requesting or reporting facts about events or actions or about a text
• hypothesizing
• formulating and supporting opinions
• evaluating the results of an action or an event


• discussing a poem, a story, a text, an advertisement, a piece of music, a play, a painting, a film, a TV program, etc.
• story-telling, narrating events
• experiencing and/or discussing a simulation (e.g., of an historical event)
• expanding ideas suggested by others or by a piece of reading
• creating rhymes, poetry, stories, plays, or scripts
• recombining familiar dialogues or passages creatively
• suggesting original beginnings or endings to dialogues or stories
• solving problems or mysteries

© 2006, Regents of the University of Minnesota. These materials were created by members of the Minnesota Articulation Project and were edited by Diane J. Tedick. Permission is granted to duplicate these materials for educational purposes.