8 junio, 2024

Oral language: characteristics, functions, examples

He oral language It is a form of communication that uses sounds pronounced by the human voice to convey a message. These sounds follow a grammatical structure that gives meaning to what is being expressed. In this way, sounds become words and sentences.

This grammatical structure has its variations and particularities depending on the language used. For example, the grammar rules of the German language are not the same as those of Spanish; however, both languages ​​have the goal of allowing people to communicate with each other.

This type of communication is typical of the human being; in fact, it is an aspect that characterizes us as a species. Although it is true that animals communicate with each other through sounds (like dolphins or birds), their way of communication does not have the complexity that ours has.

Likewise, oral language has allowed us to build life as we know it; Thanks to this language, people were able to communicate to build the first civilizations and develop the systems that currently organize society. In addition, this communication allows us to express our feelings, ideas and thoughts.


Oral language characteristics

– It is an ephemeral communication

Oral language is said to be ephemeral because once the words are pronounced, the language is not maintained over time. That is, after fulfilling their communicative function, the sounds fade. This does not happen with written language, whose purpose is to record a communication so that it is lasting.

The following example can be taken into account: Pedro wants to buy some food at the supermarket; For this, he tells his brother and says: «Juan, I’ll go to the supermarket.» After communicating this quick message, the words disappear, that is, they do not last over time.

On the other hand, if Pedro writes to his brother on a piece of paper: “Juan, I went to the supermarket. I’ll be right back”, this act of communication does last over time (at least until the paper is discarded), since it was recorded in writing.

– It is a fast and direct language

As the purpose of oral language is to communicate, it is generally a quick and direct communication; who emits the sounds wants the information to be received in the most effective and simple way possible.

For this reason, some authors say that oral language is «economical»: it seeks to say the largest number of words in the shortest possible time and without much effort. This can be noticed, for example, when a person does not pronounce some consonants when he speaks. This is how it can be seen in this sentence: «I haven’t had lunch, I’m hungry.»

– Needs a sender, a receiver and a message

All communication requires the figure of a sender and a receiver, together with the information or message that is to be transmitted; if any of these roles is missing, then the communicative act cannot be given. It is worth remembering that:

The sender is the person who conveys the message. That is, who pronounces the sounds within the oral language.
The receptor is who receives this message. Your duty is to interpret the information sent to you by the issuer. Both figures can interchange their roles; that is, the sender can become a receiver and vice versa. This change allows a conversation to exist.
The message it is simply what you want to communicate. In oral language, this message is manifested through sounds that form words and sentences. In addition, it can be accompanied by gestures that help to understand the information.


The function of oral language is to communicate; that is, allow people to transmit their ideas, emotions and sensations. However, depending on the type of information, different functions can be listed:

– emotional function

Oral language fulfills an emotional function when the issuer wishes to convey his feelings, that is, how he feels about a certain situation. Here are some examples: “I feel a little sad about Juan’s departure”; “I am very thirsty, I feel dehydrated”; «I love you so much, granny.»

– representative function

Oral language is said to be representative when you want to describe or report on a particular event or object. In general, it tends to be objective and sometimes formal (it is often used in labor relations), but this is not strictly necessary; it can also be used by family and friends when communicating.

The representative function can be appreciated in the following examples: “To prepare this recipe, you must first beat the eggs and then add the sugar. Be careful with the amounts”; “Luisa is doing very well in her work; it is possible that she will get a promotion soon ”; «It is estimated that sales will increase by 20% this year.»

– appellate function

Oral language fulfills an appellative function when its intention is to attract the attention of the receiver. Generally, we use it when we want to call a person. For example: «Paula, come here!»; “hey, Andrés, can you tell me the time?”; «Carlos! Help me pick up the dishes.»

Examples of spoken language

Below are other examples of spoken language. It must be taken into account that it is necessary to imagine that these examples are spoken in a real situation, otherwise they become examples of written language.

Examples of oral language with emotive function

– Pedro tells Andrés: “lately I feel very tired. I think I need to take a vacation.» Andrés replies: “I feel the same as you.”

– Emiliano tells Nestor: “you are a very important person in my life. You have helped me a lot».

Examples of oral language with representative function

– Gabriela wants to teach Carlos how to prepare a cake. For this she tells him: “Look, the first thing you have to do is beat the egg with the sugar. She waits for it to mix very well. Then you add the butter and integrate it.”

– Jaime has to describe to his boss a new product that they will launch on the market. That’s why he tells her: “This toothpaste will be different from the others because it will have a striking turquoise color. Also, it will have a stronger odor than conventional toothpastes.”

Examples of oral language with appellative function

– María sees Carlos from a distance and decides to call him: “Hey, Carlos! Come here.»

– Pedro’s mom needs a favor. That is why she says to him: “Pedro! Come closer for a moment. I need you to help me with something.»

– Ana is walking down the street and needs to find an address. To do this, she decides to consult a man: «Excuse me! Can you tell me where I can find the bank?”

Other examples

-Phone calls, in which there is a conversation between sender and receiver.

-The reading of the vows of a marriage in which the couple makes the vows in front of a judge.

-A political discussion in which the interlocutors give their opinions.

-The presentation of a project, be it business, real estate or others.

-The conferences, which are normally led by professional speakers.

-A political speech in a campaign, in which the speaker lists what he will do if they vote for him.

-A sermon in a temple, in which there is a transmitter and many receivers.

-The presentation of a thesis by a student.

-The presentation of the news, in which professional announcers intervene.

-The narration of a story from a father to a son.

-An informal conversation between two people who meet for certain reasons.

Themes of interest

Language functions.

Types of communication.

Language types.


Calderón, M. (2004) Development of oral language. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from santafe.gov.ar
SA (2017) Spoken language features: types & examples. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from study.com
SA (sf) Functions of oral communication. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from sites.google.com
SA (sf) Oral language: characteristics and functions. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from educacioninicial.com
SA (sf) Spoken language vs. Written Language. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from Hamilton.edu
SA (sf) Spoken language. Retrieved on May 28, 2020 from en.wikipedia.org

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