Direct and Indirect Language

We often soften our words, or use indirect language when talking about sensitive topics such as correcting others’ mistakes, or requesting someone’s time or effort. Learners will strengthen their decision-making skills to determine when it’s best to be honest and direct, and when to choose gentle/indirect words.

Sample Video:

Two Sides - Direct & Indirect Language

EXTENSION LESSON – In this game, players have to determine in which category a scene belongs in. Is the main character using direct language or indirect language? Are they saying exactly what they mean or talking around it?

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Transcript:

Narrator: Welcome to Two Sides, a game where we compare how people act in different situations. In this video, we’re going to compare direct language and indirect language. Using indirect language means we talk around something without actually saying it directly.

 

We might use indirect language when we correct someone or tell them bad news. When we use direct language, we say exactly what we’re thinking. Sometimes using too direct language can upset other people, but sometimes it’s necessary to get your point across.

 

When we’re talking with people, we want to try to figure out when we should use direct language and when we should use indirect language. Think about if the person you’re talking to will get upset if you use direct language Would it be better to use indirect language? Every time we see this icon in the corner, we should stop and discuss what happened. Let’s get started.

 

In this scene, Zach and Justin are talking about homework when Leah has something to say. Let’s see if Leah uses direct or indirect language.

 

Zach: Do you know what the Math homework was?

 

Justin: Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s all the even questions at the end of chapter 4.

 

Leah: Are you sure? I thought we were working on chapter 5. I could be wrong.

 

Justin: Oh, maybe. I might have gotten the chapters confused.

 

Leah: Yeah. I’m pretty sure it’s chapter 5. I’ll ask though.

 

Justin: Oh, no, you’re probably right.

 

Zach: Thanks!

 

Narrator: Did Leah directly or indirectly correct Justin? Leah indirectly corrected Justin. Leah wanted to correct Justin, but she didn’t want to directly tell him he was wrong. She made sure to phrase it as a question.

 

Leah: Are you sure? I thought we were working on chapter 5.

 

Narrator: She also made sure to tell Justin she might be wrong. This made her correction a bit softer. Oftentimes, people don’t like to be directly corrected about something. Why do you think that is? How does it make them feel?

 

In this scene, Zach and Justin are talking about homework when Leah has something to say. Let’s see if Leah uses direct or indirect language.

 

Zach: Do you remember what the Math homework was?

 

Justin: I’m pretty sure it’s all the even questions at the end of chapter 4.

 

Leah: No, you’re definitely wrong. It’s chapter 5. We already did chapter 4.

 

Justin: Okay. Alright then.

 

Zach: Thanks.

 

Narrator: Did Leah directly or indirectly correct Justin? Leah directly corrected Justin. Leah told Justin he was wrong and then told Zach the correct chapter to work on.

 

Leah: No, you’re definitely wrong. It’s chapter 5. We already did chapter 4.

 

Narrator: When she told Justin he was definitely wrong, he seemed upset.

 

Justin: Okay. Alright then.

 

Narrator: Leah could still get her message across without being so direct. She didn’t have to tell Justin he was definitely wrong. There was a way she could have been less direct and still made sure that Zach knew the right chapters for homework. In this case, being direct made Justin feel annoyed.

 

In this scene, Jack is talking to Connor about a movie he’s going to see. Let’s focus on Connor and see if he uses direct or indirect language.

 

Connor: Paul mentioned you guys are hanging out this weekend.

 

Jack: Yeah. We’re going to go see that new Star Wars movie.

 

Connor: I love those! Can I come with you?

 

Jack: Sure!

 

Connor: Where are you guys going?

 

Jack: The AMC Theater in town.

 

Connor: I live right by there. I can even walk!

 

Jack: Awesome!

 

Narrator: Was Connor using direct language or indirect language? Connor was using direct language. Connor felt comfortable enough with Jack that he could just ask if he could come along. If it were someone he didn’t know as well, he might not have asked directly and waited to be asked instead. Think about when you should ask for things directly or indirectly. 

 

Let’s watch them talk about the movies again and see the difference between asking directly and indirectly.

 

Connor: Paul mentioned you guys are hanging out this weekend.

 

Jack: Yeah. We’re going to go see that new Star Wars movie.

 

Connor: I love those! I’ve seen them all so far.

 

Jack: Yeah. They look pretty good.

 

Connor: Where are you guys going?

 

Jack: The AMC Theater in town.

 

Connor: Oh, really? I live right near there. I can even walk.

 

Jack: [internal thought] Connor keeps mentioning the movie and the movie theater. He’s not asking to come but his comments make me think he wants to come. I should check and see if he wants to come. 

 

Jack: (out loud) Do you want to come with us?

 

Connor: Yeah! That’d be so much fun!

 

Jack: Okay. We’re going to leave at 5:00 on Sunday.

 

Connor: Awesome! See you there! 

 

Narrator: Was Connor using direct language or indirect language? Connor was using indirect language. Connor was hinting that he wanted to go to the movie. How do we know? He said he loves Star Wars, telling Jack he’s really interested in them.

 

Connor: I love those! I’ve seen them all so far.

 

Narrator: He also told Jack how close he live to the movie theater and how easy it would be

for him to get there. 

 

Connor: I live right near there. I can even walk.

 

Narrator: Connor didn’t want to directly ask Jack if he could go to the movies. He was hinting at it. Hoping that Jack would ask him. Jack did a great job of picking up on Connor’s indirect language and figuring out what Connor wanted. Why might Connor not want to ask Jack directly if he could go to the movies with them?

 

In this scene, Leah and Justin are talking about a test Justin just took. Does Justin use direct or indirect language? 

 

Leah: How’d the History test go?

 

Justin: Well, it was 25 multiple choice, a fill in map, and three essays. It took me up to the bell to finish it. Piece of cake.

 

Leah: Yikes! That’s rough.

 

Narrator: Did Justin used direct or indirect language? Justin used indirect language. Sarcasm is one of the most common uses of indirect language. We say the opposite of what we actually mean to be funny or to make a point. How can we tell Justin was being sarcastic? First, he described a pretty difficult test and said it took him the entire class.

 

Justin: It was 25 multiple choice, a fill in map, and three essays. It took me up to the bell to finish it.

 

Narrator: Then he said the opposite of that when he said “Piece of cake.”

 

Justin: Piece of cake.

 

Leah: Yikes! That’s rough.

 

Narrator: His tone of voice also changed. These were all clues to Leah that he was being sarcastic and that the test was actually hard. 

 

Let’s see another way Justin and Leah could have talked about the test. This time, does Justin use direct or indirect language?

 

Leah: How’s the History test go?

 

Justin: Well, it was 25 multiple choice, a fill in map, and three essay questions. It took me up to the bell to finish. It was so hard.

 

Leah: Yikes! That’s rough.

 

Narrator: Did Justin use direct or indirect language?

 

Narrator: Justin used direct language. Justin wasn’t sarcastic at all. He said exactly what he meant. The words he said matched the message he was trying to send. He described a hard test and said it was hard.

 

Justin: It was so hard!

 

Leah: Yikes!

 

Narrator: He wasn’t smiling and his voice didn’t change in tone. He said exactly what he meant.

 

Great job, everyone! We learned a lot about using direct and indirect language today. We can use indirect language when we correct others.

 

Leah: Are you sure? I thought we are working on chapter 5. I could be wrong.

 

Narrator: Or want to be invited without asking if you can come.

 

Connor: I love those! I’ve seen them all so far.

 

Narrator: We can use direct language when we are serious and want to get our point across.

 

Justin: It was so hard!

 

Leah: Yikes!

 

Narrator: Or if we’re really good friends with someone. Think about the message you want to send and how you can get someone else to better understand you. Should you be direct or indirect?

 

See you next time!

 

Companion Worksheet:

Every video comes with a companion worksheet for students to review what they just learned. This helps assess comprehension and promote generalization by reinforcing the concepts covered in the video.

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