Language and Linguistics

Phatic function characteristics types and examples

Phatic function

The phatic function of language is the one used to start, maintain or end the interaction between a sender and a receiver. In this type of communication, there is no content of value, fundamentally it is used as a tool to say hello, say goodbye or make sure that the interlocutor is listening. Phatic function characteristics forms

Greetings and goodbyes are prayers that fulfill a phatic function, since they are there to open the channel of communication or to close it, and they terminate the exchange. For example: “Hello everyone.” In this case, the phatic function is fulfilled, since a conversation begins.

The factual function or also called “relational” was discovered by Roman Jakobson in the middle of the 20th century. This can be used to say hello, say goodbye, or interact cordially in conversation. Likewise, it is manifested by saying some phrases that allow the dialogue to be maintained and draw the attention of the receiver.

What is the phatic function for?

Basically, the phatic function is focused on the effectiveness of the communication channel. This is because with it we can open the conversation, evaluate if the information arrives, and then end the communication. Without a good transfer channel, optimal message reception is not guaranteed.

This type of communication is developed from childhood when we meet new people. Its primary function is to provide ease in social interaction. Some of the words we can use are: “hello”, “ok”, “bye”, “hello?”, “Naturally”, to name a few.

Characteristics of the phatic function

The phatic function has a number of characteristics:

1-Few information

The phatic function is used only to make contact, at no time is important content handled in this action. However, it does ensure that the conversation runs smoothly. This function allows the dialogue to be maintained or restored when silences appear that can be replaced by these phrases.

2-Multiple ways of use

The phatic function has several uses in conversation. We can start the conversation, interact in the middle of the dialogue to get attention, or end the conversation. Phatic function characteristics forms

3-Guarantee communication

The phatic function allows us to check if the communication channel is working. How is it achieved ?: calling the listener’s attention to know if the message is arriving as we want. For example:

You hear me well?

4-Common phrases

We can say that the words used in the phatic function are of universal use. It is common to use “hello” to say hello or “bye” to say goodbye. In addition, there are terms that become common for a certain group of people and that have their own meanings. For example: “change and go”, “hello”, “bye” or “good”.

5-Oral communication prevails

This feature usually occurs when people are face to face or talking on the phone. That is why it is said that it is more used orally. This resource allows you to start and maintain better communication between those involved and for the conversation to flow.

6-Distance education text

The phatic function is also present in distance education. It is evidenced when tests are sent to students, as they must answer and forward their answers for evaluation. The fact of returning said material with the solutions, shows that the communication channel was effective.

Types of phatic forms

1-Ways to greet

In this type of form of the phatic function, language is used to start a conversation. This allows the sender to give the signal to open the communication channel with the receiver.


– Good day.

– Hello.

– How are you?

– Can you clarify a question for me?

– Good night.

– How’s it going?

2-Forms used to interrupt

In this case, the phatic function is used to pause the conversation for a moment, but without ending it. To do this, a word is expressed to momentarily stop the dialogue and then continue. Sometimes it can be used to interrupt the speaker and add additional information to the topic that is being discussed.


– Hang on a minute.

– Sorry to interrupt, we continue.

– I’ll be back in a few seconds.

– But, my opinion is different.

– Give me a few minutes.

Also, the phatic function can be implemented to resume a topic of conversation that had been interrupted. With this, the sender and receiver are given the opportunity to follow the dialogue they had.


– As I was saying.

– What were you saying to me?

– You can continue now.

– I’m back, tell me.

– They were?

4-Ways to check

In this way, the sender ensures that the receiver is receiving the message well. It serves to keep the conversation going. Phatic function characteristics forms


– You hear me well?

– You still there?


5-Ways to confirm

In this type of form the receiver lets the sender know that he received his message and can continue the conversation. It is the way in which the greeting is answered to continue with the topic.


– Aha, tell me.

– Sure, I understand you.

– Yes, I hear you very well.

– Of course we can talk.

– Great, go on, I hear you.

6-Ways of giving the floor

In this case of phatic function, the speaker gives the floor to another person to give their opinion on the subject. In this way the communication channel is opened for that individual.


– What opinion can you give me?

– Do you understand?

– You tell me.

– What can you tell me about that.

– Let’s see, what did you think of what I said?

7-Farewell forms

In this way, the sender expresses the necessary words to indicate that said conversation will end. Likewise, this leads to the closure of the communication channel.


– Bye.

– We will continue speaking later.


– It was a pleasure talking.

Examples of phatic function

1-Phone call from Ana to Pedro

In this telephone conversation, several phatic forms are observed that have been previously described.

(The telephone rings)

Pedro: Hello

Ana: Hi Pedro, how are you?

Pedro: Very good Ana, and you?

Ana: Everything is great.

Pedro: When are you coming to visit me?

Ana: Very soon I will go to your houseCommunication sounds bad, do you hear me?

Pedro: Yes, maybe it’s because of the TVgive me a moment , I’ll lower the volume .

2-Meeting of two friends (David and Mario)

(Mario arrives at the park where David is)

Mario: Good afternoon, David. How was your exam?

David: Hi Mario, I came out excellent, with the best grade.

Mario: Good . Can you explain to me what it was you studied?

David: Sure, you tell me when.

Mario: It could be tonight, do you think?

David: Okay , no problem. Give me a moment, they are calling me on the mobile phone.

(5 minutes later) Phatic function characteristics forms

David: What were you saying, Mario.

Mario: We can study at your house at 7:00 pm, okay?

David: Sure, I’ll tell my mom to make us dinner.

Mario: Great, then see you later.

David: Okay, bye .

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