Adjacency Pairs: Definition with Examples & their Types

For example, in English the greeting “How are you?” is most commonly followed by “I’m doing well,” thus creating an adjacency pair that demonstrates a polite interest from one speaker and a reciprocal acknowledgment of that interest from the other.
According to Paltridge (2000:91-99), there are 11 kinds of Adjacency pairs, they are:
  • Requesting – Agreement,
  • Assessment – agreement,
  • Question – answer,
  • Compliment – acceptance,
  • Leavetaking adjacency pair,
  • Complaint – apology,
  • Greeting – greeting,
  • Warning – acknowledgment,
  • Blame – denial,
  • Threat – counter-thread
Adjacency Pairs: “Adjacency pairs consist of sequences which properly have the following features: (1) two utterance lengths, (2) adjacent positioning of component utterances, (3) different speakers producing each utterance.” (Schegloff and Sacks 1973).

Adjacency pairs

In linguistics, an adjacency pair is an example of conversational turn-taking. An adjacency pair is made up of two two-speaker utterances, one after the other. Speaking of the first statement (the part of the first pair or the first turn) elicits a response statement (the part of the second pair or the second turn).

Adjacency pairs are a component of pragmatic variation in the study of linguistics and they are considered mainly evident in the “interactional” function of pragmatics. Adjacency pairs exist in all languages ​​and vary in context and content between each, depending on the cultural values ​​of the speakers of the respective language.

They are often brought in by speakers unconsciously, as they are an intrinsic part of the language being spoken and therefore embedded in the understanding and use of the language by the speakers. Thus, adjacent pairs can present their challenges when a person begins to learn a language that is not native to them, as the cultural context and meaning behind the adjacent pairs may not be apparent to a speaker outside of the culture. primarily associated with the language.

Usages of Adjacency Pairs

Adjacency pairs are most commonly found in what Schegloff and Sacks described as a “single conversation,” a unit of communication in which a single person speaks and a second person responds to the utterance of the first speaker.

Whereas the single-conversation talk turn mechanism uses silence to indicate that the next speaker’s turn can begin, adjacent pairs are used to show that both speakers have finished the conversation and that the resulting silence requires neither. of the speakers take another. turn.

The predominant use of adjacent pairs in greetings and terminal exchanges demonstrates the adjacent pair’s primary function of being an organizational unit of conversation. Without the cue and expected response from the two statements, the second speaker may never fill a speaker’s silence or fill it incorrectly.

Adjacency pairs also convey courtesy and the willingness of one speaker to acknowledge the feelings of the second speaker. For example, in English the greeting “How are you?” is generally followed by “I’m fine,” thus creating an adjacent pair that demonstrates a polite interest from one speaker and reciprocal recognition of that interest from the other. Not responding politely to the greeting “How are you?” It is usually a sign of bad manners or an unwillingness to talk.

Below are some examples of adjacency pairs

Examples of couples

1-call/ → answer “Waiter! ” → ” Yes sir “2-complaint → excuse/remedy ” It’s very cold in here ” → ” Oh sorry, I’ll close the window “3-fulfilled → acceptance/rejection “I really like your new haircut !! ” → ” Oh thank you “4-graduation → graduated response ” See you! ” → ” Yes, see you later! “5-inform → acknowledge ” Your phone is there ” → ” I know “6-greeting → greeting response ” Hiya! ” → ” Oh hi! “7-offer → acceptance/rejection” Would you like to visit the museum with me tonight? ” → ” I would love to! “8-question → answer” What is this big red button doing? ” → “It makes two-thirds of the universe implode ”

Three-part exchange

A three-part exchange occurs after the first speaker in a conversation adds an additional response to the previous two expressions. The third part performs many conversational functions, including evaluating the response, recognizing an acceptable response, and understanding the response. Additionally, the third party can initiate topic delineation, a technique used to end a conversational exchange.

In face-to-face communication, the third statement can also be expressed non-verbally. Conversation transcripts may omit third-party non-verbal responses, falsely indicating that a third of the conversation is missing. Like adjacency pairs, the various types of three-party exchanges can be more closely associated with specific social settings and contextual situations.

The three-part evaluative exchange (the example is shown below) is commonly found in educational settings, particularly within primary education. The use of the three-part assessment exchange has proven useful in such an environment, as it helps teachers to identify themselves as educators and “assessors,” as the exchange provides them with the opportunity to ask their students questions that they already know. know. the answers. In doing so, the teacher has the ability to offer an evaluation of an answer, as you can determine whether an answer is acceptable or not based on your own understanding of which answer is “correct”.

On the contrary, if a teacher asked a question for which he did not know the answer, he would lose the ability to contribute a third of this exchange, since it would not be appropriate for him to determine the quality of the answer, since he himself does not certain of its validity.

Therefore, the three-part evaluative exchange is often indicative of a classroom setting where this combination of educator and evaluator is frequently perpetuated. since he himself has no certainty of its validity. Therefore, the three-part evaluative exchange is often indicative of a classroom setting where this combination of educator and evaluator is frequently perpetuated. since he himself has no certainty of its validity.

Therefore, the three-part evaluative exchange is often indicative of a classroom setting where this combination of educator and evaluator is frequently perpetuated.

Examples of three-party exchanges


“What is the capital of China?”


“Good work.”

2-Acknowledgment of acceptability

“Where are you going?

“To the store.”

“I’ll go too.”


“Is he home already?”

“Do not.”


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