The Hidden Rules of Conversation
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:
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(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.
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and on Instagram as tomscottgo

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott

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

    • Proculopsis

      ▶ My favourite Conversational Implicature: "This video made a profound impression, surpassing all expectations" ...given that the impression was actually very poor albeit beyond an extremely low expectation. Just kidding😃

    • Luvjeet SINGH
      Luvjeet SINGH


    • anonymous Crabz
      anonymous Crabz

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

    • Alexandr Kovalenko
      Alexandr Kovalenko

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

    • Peg leg
      Peg leg


  • Fox Pokémon Forever
    Fox Pokémon Forever

    Speaking as a Canadian, “Petrol” is one of the most British Words ever.

  • Aaron Long
    Aaron Long

    You are a violator of Grice's maxims! (Short for: You're a liar)

  • X

    technically its not impossible for a tomato to not be vegan if it was fertilized in cow manure

  • Luiz Felipe
    Luiz Felipe

    non-evil tomato ? Integza disagrees with that.

  • Hyndergogen9

    I feel like the cooperative principle is being rather undermined on the internet. There are so many situations where you can have absolutely no trust that the other person is attempting to cooperate, and so many use language insidiously to disingenuously spread lies that serve them.

  • J C
    J C

    Seems an incomplete analysis. I don't think you can explain how jokes work with just violation and flouting. It seems a third method is needed to describe how the maxims are not followed.

  • 228anonymous

    TIL that British people call gas stations “garages” And here I was thinking people in the UK just store a bunch of gas in their garages

  • J B
    J B

    These like to dislike ratios are insane

  • Mirjam Sander
    Mirjam Sander

    I am from Gemany, I didnt know the british meaning of garage. I thought, you meant, that there is a american garage, where a neighbor has petrol.

  • Mark Chapman
    Mark Chapman

    Letter of "recommendation" - "You will be lucky if you can get X to work for you."

  • sixeclog

    I want to naot dia

  • Apathetic Panda
    Apathetic Panda

    Guy named Petrol: 😔

  • DoodleYT

    can you flout and violate at the same time? Like lying in a way you want someone to pick up on? Maybe you only want one person to pick up on it, but not others?

    • Magical Watermelon
      Magical Watermelon

      I suppose that would be sarcasm, but unless you were using an inside joke or information you know another person already has, it would be hard to make it so that only one person would pick up on it.

  • Alex Butler
    Alex Butler

    Mmm gEr-Age... Don't like it.

  • Aiden Bagshaw
    Aiden Bagshaw

    3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity)

  • Yvonne S
    Yvonne S

    If it was a veganically grown tomato, then it was a bit more vegan than a non-veganically grown tomato.

  • Oğul Sarıyer
    Oğul Sarıyer

    Tomato is sus guys

  • Goro Majima
    Goro Majima

    “Hay kid, you want some *boneless* Avocados?”

  • Blu Scout
    Blu Scout

    *walks into the McDonald's* Hello can I have an ice cone? McDonald's employee: No ice cream machine broke.

  • Kimberly Colley
    Kimberly Colley

    "Morning." "Yes, it is."

  • BenFromCanada

    “can i get a boneless pizza with a 2L of coke”

  • Vladislav Trbović
    Vladislav Trbović

    This comment is made by 15 years old.

  • James Dewane
    James Dewane

    Fish genes in tomatoes is a thing, so is Tom trolling us here?

  • Whine

    the tomato is vegan as no fertilizer was used

  • John73 John
    John73 John

    It's like that 0-calorie water I keep seeing advertised.

  • Ian Warburton
    Ian Warburton

    "Uncooperative" sounds like many people that I know.

  • Battlehawk67

    As an American if you said garage we'd think you mean an auto repair shop

  • Sérgio Domingues
    Sérgio Domingues

    Maxim of quality... ah, these philosophers...

  • PS3DJ09

    Tom Scott is the guy I want to turn into everytime there is an awkward pause

  • Leon HUANG
    Leon HUANG

    Today was simply a lovely day! I was walking down the street with no blood dripping off my hands, and I had just visited the not burned down homes of my still-alive friends! After that, I told them to enjoy the next 24 hours, then went home to do legal activities!

  • Fen Wolf
    Fen Wolf

    779 thumbs down why???

  • Almighty Deaks
    Almighty Deaks

    You can get non vegan tomatoes

  • jonnda

    Yet, gluten free oats are a thing.

  • Lou Ciamillo
    Lou Ciamillo


  • Aidan Berrios
    Aidan Berrios

    boneless pizza

  • Aki San
    Aki San

    i bet tom is regretting this since there are now a lot of "vegan" fruits and veggies out there.. or even vegan mineral water... guidelines only exists for those who are not working in the advertisement industry...

  • Даниел Кулевски
    Даниел Кулевски

    You forgot about organic food. :D

  • notlsa

    well i'm out of petrol too

  • pieandcheese647

    Guy 1: what’s your name Guy 2: Peter, without an F Guy 1: but there’s no F in Peter Peter: that’s what I said.

  • Tiny Desk Engineer
    Tiny Desk Engineer

    But wait, this one is free of bubonic plague!

  • World Peace
    World Peace

    Jane fell on the metro tracks and yells: "Help! I don't wanna die like this!" So Emma walks over and cuts her throat. Emma: a person you can count on

    • Because I'm A Potato
      Because I'm A Potato

      Damn I wish I had a friend like Emma

  • Tony Borell
    Tony Borell

    Me at a restaurant: Can I have a coke Server: Oh we just have pepsi, is that okay? Me, hanging head: Nothing's okay

  • Eric Sandin
    Eric Sandin

    Can I get a pizza with out any bones in it?

  • Nostger Grrrssddc
    Nostger Grrrssddc

    "asbestos free cereal" "organic tomatoes" "all natural essential oils" Checks out, no one would try to sell anything like that.

  • foxopossum


  • sween187

    Well if you were to say vegan tomato's I would thing no harmful pesticides as this could harm animals around where said tomato was grown.

  • Neil Yates
    Neil Yates

    Proof that educated people are the dumbest on Earth.

  • Jeredan Surgeon
    Jeredan Surgeon

    If I may beseech you, Mr. Teacher. At this time I find it prudent to take notice of my biological urges. In specific as may be appropriate, my urinary continence must be preserved by not just my travel, as well by my use of, such facilities as us bi-ambulatory featherless animals have created for said use as delineated so forth. May it please you to show such mercy, please interpret this as my declaration of intent to be acted on with your permission, my urgent desire to pass urine.

  • LittleEzra009

    1:45 Sometimes I make relations that are insanely wierd. Maybe something like thinking about spongebob when talking about lawyers or something.

  • noah

    Name's Noah, without a G

  • nel blop
    nel blop

    I've been a math student a few years and we learned to be very precised in our words for demonstrations. We had to prove something was an absolute TRUTH or wasn't. This comment section really reminds me when we overstep it in our real conversations. "That's what this product is made of, you know." "Well, no, I don't know." "You're playing with words... " It still happens. And I'm genuinely thinking my interlocutor think I have to already know for sure the given information. 😅

  • Roy Fisher
    Roy Fisher

    When did garage become a British slang word?

  • Potato Maximus
    Potato Maximus

    reminds me of boneless pizza

  • Jack F
    Jack F

    Am I the only one who had to look up what petrol was? no, just me.

  • 勇樹

    Dehydrated water

  • Ryo Hazuki
    Ryo Hazuki

    Clearly hasn't heard of the Beef Tomato

  • Herm Ask
    Herm Ask

    The window is open. Meaning in Cold countries: you, please close it. (Germany) Warm countries: nice to have a breeze coming inside.(Japan)

    • Herm Ask
      Herm Ask

      @Tryphon, un ZOUAVE ??! Generally speaking, yes. They have cold regions , too, but the majority lived and still lives in the warmer regions. Most people live around Tokio (kanto-regions) and south of it. So they experienced more warmth in average per year throughout history.

    • Tryphon, un ZOUAVE ??!
      Tryphon, un ZOUAVE ??!

      Is Japan warmer than Germany ?

  • Sara Olmstead
    Sara Olmstead

    The holistic traffic importantly flower because bite cellularly bounce given a wiggly group. bawdy, adorable biplane

  • Floorgle

    Now that I have watched this video, I cannot stop thinking in every conversation I have “You just flouted one of Grice’s maxims” and I don’t think this is healthy

  • Dios Chotil
    Dios Chotil

    I've studied Grice at my university degree, and its really ironic that his works (at least, translated into spanish) are a nightmare to read

  • Richard Bilton
    Richard Bilton

    Garages are where cars are kept or sold, you buy fuel from a petrol station.

  • nakwada

    Tom Scott, feat. Integza :D

  • Chris Orbz
    Chris Orbz

    Tomatoes have been genetically modified to incorporate fish genes, IIRC to boost the plants' resilience to near-freezing temperatures. Some vegans might not take issue with this as the produced organisms would continue to be free of a central nervous system, but most would trace those genes back to their aquatic ancestor's lab death and take issue. Actually, I'm assuming the 'donor fish' didn't have its DNA harvested delicately, but either way most vegans would take issue.

  • Asashi

    Video: 10 months ago Pinned Tom Scott comment: *11 months ago*

  • Skiniver

    2:18 made no sense to me at all and to me sounds like boulder dash.

  • bcubed72

    "Give me $100 and I won't punch your face in." Technically, I didn't threaten you. What would happen if you *didn't* give me $100 was never stated. Presumably, I might also not punch your face in.

  • Mildred The Goat
    Mildred The Goat

    "Never use a long word where a diminutive one will suffice" - from a Simon Drew card

  • Gloweye

    Well-considered breaking of those makes for jokes/puns. For example, "Hey back, I'm dad." breaks the cooperative principle.

  • pandaman

    Some of my job’s produce has labels saying they may have beeswax or some other wax to preserve them, so they wouldn’t be vegan produce because they were made with animal products

  • W.2026

    I'm too drunk to comprehend this I'll come back when I've sobered up If I remember watching this video at all that is

    • W.2026

      @Wild Blunt Hickok Nah dude keep it you need it more than I do I'm an ex "space pirate" and I still have some good friends from the good old days They wouldn't dare harass me after what I did for them in phobos You on the other hand would be sht out of luck the moment you got in their line of sight Even I couldn't protect you Please don't do anything stupid

    • Wild Blunt Hickok
      Wild Blunt Hickok

      @W.2026 I can sell you a rock that keeps away all space pirates. I've owned it for 8 years and not a single space pirate in that time

    • W.2026

      Never mind I can comprehend this just fine Imagine if I was sober I could conquer the world and put an end to this whole "space pirate" problem that's been going on for decades now

  • GlowstoneLove Pad
    GlowstoneLove Pad

    Student A: I'm glad to be in a new grade, I can chew gum in this class. In the class I was in last grade, my teacher made me put gum on my nose because I was chewing it. Student B: How do you chew your nose?

    • W.2026

      Nobody nose

    • Václav Jebavý
      Václav Jebavý

      is that a hanging participle or one of those thingies

  • GlowstoneLove Pad
    GlowstoneLove Pad

    0:09 Esbes Tchi Mna-free cereal.

  • Audrey Vann
    Audrey Vann

    I've seen plenty of "gluten free" vegetables at the grocery store. I wondered if they thought people were too dumb to know what gluten was (since these things had never contained gluten), or if they were just adding random buzz words to the package...maybe it's both.

  • Dr. Revenant Blunt
    Dr. Revenant Blunt

    Why are your videos so short?

  • SnowblindOtter

    The 'Low in sugar' bit isn't honest, it's a straight out lie unless it's proven to be low in sugar according to a certain standard. That's like saying Tic-Tacs are 'sugar free' despite them being pure sugar, simply because one mint is a single serving and weighs less than a gram, and the standard definition of 'sugar free' is to have less than 1g per serving of sugar.

  • Tourniquet Connoisseur
    Tourniquet Connoisseur

    I don’t subscribe to the maxim of relation

  • Amy Ebert
    Amy Ebert

    "The student always tried their best"

  • Víkingur Sigurðsson
    Víkingur Sigurðsson

    At a job interview "What's your name?" "Stephen without a K"

  • Will Lee Rock
    Will Lee Rock

    Yes a tomato can be Vegan... If there's the use of pesticide in the process of making the tomato, it means that insects are dying and could result in less food for the animals.

  • Cosmo K
    Cosmo K

    FINALLY! An explanation as to why my grocery store sells "gluten free" carrots!

  • Dan

    This video is for aliens who want to learn how to hide as a human

  • Pawit Ninnabodee
    Pawit Ninnabodee

    The sincere ash intialy announce because client counterintuitively decorate amid a organic jaguar. abiding, greedy hope

  • Elenor Steuernagel
    Elenor Steuernagel

    The unhealthy bladder serendipitously command because mechanic spectroscopically attract circa a mellow poison. jealous, political airplane

  • Raphaël Atherill
    Raphaël Atherill

    I guess we could argue that tomatoes grown using manure are not vegan

  • Devosaur

    because I grew up with a mental disorder that delayed my language development, I became a naturalist when it came to flouting. However, I do it unintentionally because of how my brain is wired, and that causes me to associate some concepts slightly differently. it's quite sad when you think about it, however, as I grow up I slowly amend these associations to their correct meanings even though this natural process likes to take its time. life is harder for someone like me.

  • AK Nephtali
    AK Nephtali

    Ah yes, I do love non genetically modified pillows.

  • Darren W
    Darren W

    I'm disappointed this video did not mention baby oil.

  • Sole Ice
    Sole Ice

    The many amount booly wrestle because jaw microregionally earn beside a grandiose rainbow. mellow, tacky thursday

  • RanMind YT
    RanMind YT

    I ate uranium-free eggs today

  • Dylyn02

    Thanks as a Hytrmond from Ayuio-572 I have been needing to learn how to fit in to human society, thank you

  • Daniel Burns
    Daniel Burns

    it's really fun to mess around with this concept, and intentionally not follow them. "I'm going to the store later, want anything?" "No I'm not really a big fan of Batman"

    • Because I'm A Potato
      Because I'm A Potato

      "But do you want anything from the shop?" "I told you, celery was always to boring for me, I prefer carrots or iguanas"

  • OuroborosChoked

    "Vegan tomatoes" may have some utility... I'm certain the number of vegans who would be confused by "beefsteak tomatoes" is a nonzero number.

  • Augusto Feyh
    Augusto Feyh

    - What's your name? - Tom, without a K. - There is no K in Tom! - That's what I said!

    • Neil Lunavat
      Neil Lunavat

      This is getting so boring ugh

  • Me Potter
    Me Potter

    3:00 That also shows one of the main issues of communication - I wouldn't have worked out that the car was stranded by that sentence, so if my conservation partner expected that we would have had a problem.

  • c0nceited

    My “not involved in human trafficking” shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by the shirt.

    • Aiden Bagshaw
      Aiden Bagshaw

      @Tony Borell Best reply comment I've seen all year.

    • Tony Borell
      Tony Borell

      nice try matt gaetz

  • Wild Trek
    Wild Trek

    If you need more examples just read any news headline 🤷‍♂️

  • helzzzz1111

    Does Grice's principle hold true for other languages? Say, Chinese?

  • Ignacio Mireille
    Ignacio Mireille

    The rampant society expectedly remember because trapezoid resultantly park astride a dazzling thunder. abundant, grubby gruesome waste

  • Voltaic Fire
    Voltaic Fire

    I prefer human Tom Scott videos.