Basic characteristics of expansions

  • Any adjacency pair can take expansions, including expansions

  • Typically no more than two embedded levels (e.g., a repair of a repair)

  • Do not seem to take pre-expansions, although they can take insert expansions and post-expansions


  • base pair might not occur after pre-expansion; need to look at how participants orient to it

  • pre-expansions are often also adjacency pairs

  • there are type-specific pre-sequences, such as pre-invitations, pre-offers, etc.

  • pre-sequences project that the base FPP will be produced


  • asking “Are you doing anything?” usually not asking for a factual account, but a prelude to an invitation

  • help speaker avoid rejection

  • can be a way of hedging the potential pre-invitation


  • some pre-sequences don’t have clear indications of what they are, such as “Guess what?”

  • transition from pre-sequence to base sequence not always unproblematic

  • preference for offers over requests


  • aims to:

    • serve as alert to recipients that what is to follow is a telling of news

    • offer a characterization that sets parameters for recipients’ recognition

    • give evidence of recency of what is to be reported as evidence of its newsworthiness

    • make actual telling a contingent step by formulating it as an offer or request, or making recipient-design constraint actionable

  • commonly involves two forms of SPP: one which registers whether what has been conveyed is news, another which takes up a stance towards the news

  • ordinarily speakers don’t tell recipient what they already know, unless reminiscing

  • pre-announcements often start with “Guess/Y’know/Remember” + (what/what/when/where) + more or less detail

  • the minimal form is “Guess what?”; often deployed as a puzzle or challenge

  • other forms: “I’ve/we’ve got” + characterization (e.g., “I’ve got good news”)

Insert expansions


  • backwards looking repair sequences

  • can be initiated in SPP slot, for example:

    • A:    How did it go?
    • B:--> What do you mean?


  • forward looking

  • common in service encounters where it is used to establish pre-conditions for the encounter, for example:

    • A    Can I get a vodka?
    • B--> Are you twenty-one?
    • A    No
    • B    No


Minimal post-expansions (sequence-closing thirds)

  • involves one additional turn to a sequence after the SPP

  • designed not to project further sequence but the close sequence

  • found after both preferred and dispreferred SPPs

  • examples:

    • “oh”: indicates change-of-state from unknowing to knowing (i.e., speaker has gained new information in prior turn)

    • “okay”: indicates acceptance

    • assessments: indicates stance towards SPP, e.g., “That’s good” (for more, see “Assessments” page)

Further reading

Heritage, J. (1984). A change-of-state token and aspects of its sequential placement. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis(pp. 299–345). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis, vol 1. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.