Skip to main content

Speech acts: Constative and performative - Colleen Glenney Boggs

196,544 Views

4,867 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

When are words just words, and when do words force action? Linguist J.L. Austin divided words into two categories: constatives (words that describe a situation) and performatives (words that incite action). For instance, is a “No running” sign describing your gait, or are you not running because the sign prohibits it? Colleen Glenney Boggs describes how these categorizations give power to words and, ultimately, to your actions.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Colleen Glenney Boggs
  • Animator Lou Webb
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

More from Playing with Language