We explain what discourse genres are, their characteristics and how they are classified. Plus, stable statements and more.

What are discourse genres?

Discursive genres encompass language statements that are similar to each other, due to subject matter, verbal style, or composition . By themselves, the statements would not make sense.

The word " discourse " refers to spoken or written communication that maintains coherence in its utterances, and the word "genre" refers to a type of purpose-oriented and molded category, such as art, music, literature or language. Discursive genres should not be confused with literary genres , which are models in which literature texts are grouped .

The concept of discursive genres was proposed by the Russian theorist and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin and refers to a set of stable sentences of language that share characteristics determined by culture , linguistic factors and institutions, and that allow ordering communication , both written and oral.

For example: a scientific article and a journalistic note belong to different discursive genres. However, all scientific articles share certain specifications that define it as such and all journalistic articles share certain characteristics that define it as such. Each group or category is a different discursive genre.

In each of these areas the word is needed as a mediator and discursive genres are structures that contain and order, in a particular way, the words of a speaker . They are genres whose function is the communication between a speaker or sender and a recipient or receiver. The sender uses certain linguistic tools for the elaboration of the message and its correct interpretation by the receiver.

Characteristics of discursive genres

Among the general characteristics of discourse genres, the following stand out:

  • They are statements that maintain coherence within a given context.
  • They are a reflection of the external conditions of the speaker , such as the influence of culture, sociolinguistic factors, the ability to interact with others, among other factors.
  • They order communication . Without the recognition of discursive genres, communication would not be effective or would be open to misinterpretation.
  • They are dynamic because they develop over time and allow giving coherence and meaning to an individual's action.
  • They are contextualized in a specific cultural, idiomatic or contextual setting, such as a school classroom, a meeting of professionals or a literary text.
  • They build social structures , such as a group of students, one of professionals or amateurs.

Types of discourse genres

Types of discourse genres

Speech genre types fall into the following two general groups:

  • Primary discursive genres. They are the discursive genres that refer to everyday and informal communication, which is characterized by being simple, spontaneous and eloquent. For example: a conversation between friends.
  • Secondary discursive genres. They are the discursive genres that refer to a complex and elaborate communication. For example: a literary text, a political speech or a scientific report.

Elements of discourse genres

Elements of discourse genres

Discursive genres are stable statements of language that are grouped based on common characteristics and that are maintained throughout the communicative situation. Every statement can reflect the individuality of the speaker, but not all genres allow themselves to absorb an individual or personal style.

Statements constitute a link in the chain of discursive communication and that union or grouping is determined by three elements present in every discursive genre:

  • The topic. Establish a restriction on what can or cannot be talked about. For example: in a job interview, topics such as professional trajectory, studies carried out, among others, and with a formal tone are discussed. In a meeting with friends you can talk about various topics.
  • The structure. Establish the order or diagram that governs the words. For example: The structure of a formal letter or a curriculum vitae to present in a job interview must respect formal formats and vocabulary. An informal letter to a friend is more free, conversational and relaxed.
  • The style. It establishes the degree of formality or informality of the communicative situation and has to do with the lexical and grammatical resources of the language. For example: In a job interview the style will be formal and sober. In a meeting with friends the style will be relaxed, conversational and informal.

Intertextuality in discursive genres

Intertextuality is a term created by the Bulgarian philosopher Julia Kristeva and represents the relationship that is established between a text and others (or between a dialogue and others) and the interpretation of that relationship can have wide possibilities. For example: works of art can be analyzed from semiotics, music from social history or a literary work can be adapted and versioned in the form of parody.

One of the conditions for intertextuality to be fully generated is the cultural background or knowledge of the recipients. If the reader or receiver does not identify the intertextual code, the hypertext will be reduced to a simple sense without multiple significance.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Luke is passionate about fostering student involvement and connection. He studied psychology for his major and likes learning about the past. Luke aims to specialize in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. .

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