The Hidden Rules of Conversation

Tom Scott

2,7 milj. näkymät830

    Gricean Maxims are a vital part of how we understand each other: a set of... well, maybe "rules" is a bit strong. They're guidelines that we follow without realising it. And it's the reason that "asbestos-free cereal" sounds suspicious.

    Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen's podcast Lingthusiasm is at

    Gretchen's book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available:
    🇺🇸 US:
    🇨🇦 CA:
    🇬🇧 UK:

    (Those are affiliate links that give a commission to me or Gretchen, depending on country!)

    Graphics by William Marler:
    Audio mix by Graham Haerther:

    Munroe, R. (2009). "Free".
    Grice, H.P. (1975). "Logic and Conversation," Syntax and Semantics, vol.3 edited by P. Cole and J. Morgan, Academic Press. Reprinted as ch.2 of Grice 1989, 22-40.

    I'm at
    on Twitter at tomscott
    on Facebook at tomscott
    and on Instagram as tomscottgo

    Julkaistu Vuosi sitten


    1. Tom Scott

      Please keep all vegan jokes in this thread. Or, preferably, inside your own head.

      1. Silent

        @Nadea 1 year ago

      2. ᴅᴀɴ


      3. Luvjeet SINGH


      4. Bukachell

        Hey can somebody help my understand why shoes are being labelled as vegan?

      5. Alexandr Kovalenko

        This is very passive-aggressive, Tom. Also, what is wrong with vegan jokes?

    2. Pluto

      what most people learned from this video: why language is not as complicated as people may believe. what i learned: *M E A T T O M A T O*

    3. thecommenter

      But it also makes us biased.

    4. Matthew Bryan

      My favorite way to flout the maxims is to watch a show and say "of all the shows that I've seen, that's definitely one of them"

    5. Hijodelaisla

      Bart: "Girls ruin everything!" Homer: "You say that now, but when you're older you'll learn to keep it to yourself."

    6. Hijodelaisla


    7. Bryton Ratte

      It’s really interesting to apply breaking these rules purposely to real life. For instance how a company may say asbestos free cereal to imply that their product is better than others due to the information they gave, regardless of the fact that no cereal has asbestos in it. Cool video

    8. kayrose

      my mom got razors and they said vegan and gluten-free. I'd think generally razors do not have gluten in then

    9. Supermarine Spitfire

      For the 10th time, i didn't kidnap a child and sell them to Mark Zuckerberg.

    10. tonktruck

      Because a vegan burger is not a burger that means it’s violating it right?

    11. Cody Myhre

      You have to talk following graces Maxims! Firstly, the code was not programmed in my AI so I must do nothing Secondly, I have to be a human for the code to apply and I'm Not. And thirdly! The rules are more what you'd call... guidelines

    12. Jklmnopski

      Gluten-free water

    13. Giulio Simão

      These guidelines: *exist* My mom: "I'll ignore that."

    14. Matheus villas

      I wish my fellow portuguese friends would understand this. It's a bit weird when they are way too literal

    15. Matt C

      grice krispies

    16. TheDoh007

      Muffin packaging: Lead-free!* *may contain water

    17. Nick Hoad

      I did once genuinely see an advert for "gluten-free shampoo"

    18. Kanchan Chaudhary

      how do you push a car down the road

    19. Lambo Rambo

      This “cooperation” in conversation was destroyed with identity politics and critical race theory...

    20. Alexander Fretheim

      People in the Southern US violate the Maxim of Manner all day long.

    21. Mayorfoxia82 Datnoobboi

      aliens: hmmm, i like youtube video

    22. Kentucky Fried Children

      Quick reminder L Ron Hubble believed Tomatoes were sentient creatures that could feel pain.

    23. Russian Ground Forces

      boneless language

    24. Hlebuw3k


    25. Dr chocolate milk

      can i have a boneless pizza

    26. ganesan santhanam

      Oh Tom Scott you brilliant of a jester You tickle my brain on a daily basis 😂 Write a book, you

    27. Tao

      Violate one or more of the maxims to confuse your friends

    28. Shisno Shiz

      Pronounce it gaRAUGE please

    29. Max Cool

      introducing new meat tomatoes? why did we make this! this is our worst product! why!

    30. ein Google Name kann exakt ganze 100 Zeichen lang seien Wie soll man das denn ohne Satzeichen Füllen

      My frute juce being labels at vegan: I don't think so!

    31. Cristina M

      As an American, I think it's safe to say I'll never run out of petrol.

    32. ravi bhusan

      Though vegan tomatoes are rather a bit evil but I still hate my parents

    33. murtaza9761


    34. AwpWilliams

      Time to go buy some good ol' boneless water.

    35. Lochlan Whyte

      Boneless pizza

    36. Zackinator

      Give me a boneless pizza

    37. David Bailey

      "Garage" can be used the same in the US as the UK, but it is not very common. The "garage = gas station" usage is often both regional and generational. I regularly hear it used by older people in the rural south.

    38. Allan Tidgwell

      "We're all cooperating with eachother" I don't know, it seems some people want to be as unclear in their language as possible while others need nothing but the most unambiguous of language to understand at all. It's one of the ways which people talk past eachother

    39. Spark Dragon

      i didn't know what "asbestos" meant (as a non-native speaker) and when i looked it up i was like "Oh..." :D

    40. Intergalactic Potato

      grice krispies

    41. llamawalrushybrid

      1:00 Pokemon in a nutshell.. I remember losing on purpose to the NPC in leafgreen that was upset he'd never won before.. total lack of catharsis when his dialogue was the same.

    42. Radian

      Can I get a... *B O N E L E S S P I Z Z A*

    43. steve Campbell

      Tomatoes are carnivores.

    44. Noah Royale

      I have ADHD and I do not abide to these guidelines

    45. Lee Haiko

      Abestos free cereal is suspicious, but boneless chicken isn't?

    46. Angry Ted

      Surely flouting these maxims are the essence of 50% of all jokes? "Where are you from?" "My mother's vagina..." "Where are you going?" "Heaven, with any luck..." "What do you want?" "Health, wealth and happiness. Oh, and this Christmas list..." "Why are we here?" "F***ing evolution and the out of Africa theory..." "Who will win the election?" "The one with the most votes (😬)"

    47. Chouci Vang

      Companies be slapping "gluten free" on everything nowadays. "Here's some 'gluten free' water!"

    48. Sonu Kalwar

      Who is here from english Aecc class🙄Hit like👍

      1. Sonu Kalwar


      2. Sonu Kalwar

        @Dhairya ummm hmm hnnn hhhh😂😂

      3. Dhairya

        The garage is down the road

    49. Todd Southern

      Regarding the vegan tomato or produce in general. There was a company DNAP [DNA Plant Technology] - that put an arctic fish gene in tomatoes and strawberries. They were also responsible for the super-nicotine tobacco cited in the FDA vs Brown and Williamson. The fear of Frankenfoods is sad and unfortunate reality for produce sold in the US. There are no official legislation by the FDA banning the genetic modification of produce or any other organism sold as food.

    50. BlueBoyTube

      My name is Marc without a P

    51. Joe Thompson

      Is it necessary to label beef tomatoes as vegan?

    52. Sturm [ʃtʊɐ̯m]

      What if I label my burgers as "the best burgers in the market"?

    53. Sturm [ʃtʊɐ̯m]

      -I'm out of gas. -Oh, there's a station about 2 miles that way. -Why would I go there? *Did I explicitly imply that my lack of gasoline was a sake of unwished nature?*

    54. CJ Wolf

      I think this is Tom Scott secretly teaching his robot how to blend in to society

    55. Carlos Vargas

      Huh, i guess what i calll "strategically telling the truth" is flouting

    56. ethan 14

      I don't call them garages, I am British but I call them petrol stations, I wonder if anyone else does?

    57. Dondlo

      Vegan meat is even worse

      1. Sam Forbes

        how so

    58. æ

      Boneless pizza.

    59. locke

      vegan tomato and asbestos free cereal makes me think they have those things

    60. K1naku5ana3R1ka

      Store label: “Vegan tomatoes” Me: w>👉🏻 You get it? Other guy: Wait, WTF? :-/ Other guy: (S)= :-D Other guy: 👈🏻

    61. mienzillaz

      After many videos i just noticed that lines in background are tilted.. can't understand a word from what you say now.. how to stop this..?

    62. Toby Tomaney

      boneless pizza bayber

    63. Redzuan Salam

      "Uii kau tau kah.." "Tau" ...

    64. Ashley Mynxish


    65. B N


    66. Rosie Huffleclaw

      Jesus loves you! ✝️❤️✝️

    67. Philip Lawrence

      I work at a school and in the cafeteria there’s “vegetarian beans”, dafuq?

    68. Alexandre Souto Nogueira

      petrol and gas are wrong terms for gasoline, with is made from petroleum.

      1. Ren

        No reason to be so pedantic about things. Because “gas” and “petrol” are so commonly used, they become correct terms for gasoline because they’re commonly used and understood terms.

    69. syweb2

      3:19 Not me, apparently, as I needed this part of this video to tell me what "garage" meant, and assumed you meant a literal garage that someone owned, where you would (for some reason) be able to buy gas from them.

    70. AustraLiam

      My favourite is when Single Flavoured Ice Cream is labeled 'Gluten Free'

    71. Justin

      It's like when saying a lie, but people add too much information for some reason. I assume it's to increase the validity of the lie, but they break at least one Maxim (Outside of the truthful one) and it just makes it obvious

    72. isaiah veirs

      I’ve realized most of my humor is just making fun of people when they don’t follow these maxims.

    73. JonatasMonte

      This is becoming far more clear in this interconnected age, where people from different places don't cooperate the same in conversations.

    74. JonatasMonte

      And that's how you understand a sentence in a language you're learning, even though you are yet to learn the meaning of it.

    75. Daven Johnson

      boneless pizza

    76. Dolphiniz

      “Give as much information as needed and no more” Me: how about no information?

    77. James Armstrong IV

      When you said garage I though a mechanic shop.

    78. Caleb Evans

      does anyone else have the problem of their brain going down bunny holes during conversations and you end up saying something that seems completely relevant to you, but not to anyone else and you just feel like an idiot?

    79. coconutcore

      There is no dead prostitute burried under the second parking space from the left in front of the biggest supermarket of steenokkerzeel in Belgium. There is absolutely no reason to think there would be. Katelyn is happily living in Northern Italy. No one killed her with a broomstick at precisely 11:37 at night last Christmas.

    80. Kendra Dog

      Some peanut butter has a label “contains peanuts”

      1. Dhondu Rao

        Think it's legally required for people who have nut allergies, and for some reason, no common sense.

      2. GTA and Apple channel

        Now that's really SUS, I will buy the once that "doesn't contains peanuts" after seeing that

    81. Sean MacDonald

      According to an episode of QI, vegans might have to worry about apples (if not tomatoes) as apparently some grocery stores will make apples look shinier by using... I forget exactly what, but some sort of stuff from bugs. So, a vegan apple might be a real thing.

    82. ElvanLady

      Amelia Bedelia will look for these hidden rules! Perhaps they're behind the couch cushions?

    83. iwasbored

      Me with ADHD: *ignores all the rules without noticing*

    84. Dababy Official

      "Have a good day" "Don't tell me what to do"

    85. 💚

      Hidden rules from the public......there are no rules

    86. my unco


    87. Steazy McCheesy

      A bottle of water that says 'Contains zero calories!' Always rustles my feathers...

    88. Papa Llama

      Petrol? Isn't that, like gas or something? Also, why is it called gas? It's a a liquid. (I'm referring to gasouline)

      1. GTA and Apple channel


    89. Kaiser Basileus

      The deconstruction is: Regular attendence is the minimum that can be expected of a student - if you're not there, you can't do the education thing. So in balance between the minimum and "excellent" is what you should expect from this student.

    90. Kaiser Basileus

      The deconstruction is: "I lack a certain resource." and "It's available there." The car stuff is irrelevant.

    91. Rayan papaya Shayan

      bunger bunger

    92. LivingCodeX

      I'm the 6666th comment and sometime someone will eventually find me.

    93. Teimo Pielinen

      The boneless pizza maxims

    94. Kai lucas Anton

      Ah yes, boneless pizza

    95. Jordan Troutt

      Good to see Tom putting that linguistics degree to good use.

    96. Owen the Slug

      I think I would love sitting at a meal with you, Molly & Gretchen. No flouting implied, I do think the conversations on language must be fascinating & wonderful.

    97. WadelDee

      Until you explained that garage = gas station, I seriously assumed that there was a home whose garage happened to have some petrol in it!

    98. Sif

      No flanbaneros were harmed in the making of this video. Edit: I could not post this in Tom's pinned comment (unknown error occurredso it gets to go here instead). It may not be a Vegan joke anyways, idk

    99. blackAngel

      "And using the Maxim of Manner, even someone who’s confused by my dialect can work out that "garage" probably means the British slang for what Americans would call a “gas station”. It’s not just someone’s garage at home where they park their car. That would be weird." This might not age that well with electric cars :D

    100. Sam Dixon

      It's like the classic "What's your name?" "Ali. With an i" "I'm Daniel. With an L"