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:
🇺🇸 US:
🇨🇦 CA:
🇬🇧 UK:
(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.
I'm at
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and on Instagram as tomscottgo


  1. Tom Scott

    Tom Scott

    11 mánuðum síðan

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

    • Proculopsis


      Mánuði síðan

      ▶ 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

      2 mánuðum síðan


    • anonymous Crabz

      anonymous Crabz

      2 mánuðum síðan

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

    • Alexandr Kovalenko

      Alexandr Kovalenko

      3 mánuðum síðan

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

    • Peg leg

      Peg leg

      3 mánuðum síðan


  2. Fen Wolf

    Fen Wolf

    7 klukkustundum síðan

    779 thumbs down why???

  3. Almighty Deaks

    Almighty Deaks

    21 klukkustund síðan

    You can get non vegan tomatoes

  4. jonnda


    2 dögum síðan

    Yet, gluten free oats are a thing.

  5. Lou Ciamillo

    Lou Ciamillo

    2 dögum síðan


  6. Aidan Berrios

    Aidan Berrios

    2 dögum síðan

    boneless pizza

  7. Aki San

    Aki San

    3 dögum síðan

    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...

  8. Даниел Кулевски

    Даниел Кулевски

    4 dögum síðan

    You forgot about organic food. :D

  9. notlsa


    4 dögum síðan

    well i'm out of petrol too

  10. pieandcheese647


    4 dögum síðan

    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.

  11. Tiny Desk Engineer

    Tiny Desk Engineer

    4 dögum síðan

    But wait, this one is free of bubonic plague!

  12. World Peace

    World Peace

    5 dögum síðan

    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

  13. Tony Borell

    Tony Borell

    5 dögum síðan

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

  14. Eric Sandin

    Eric Sandin

    5 dögum síðan

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

  15. Nostger Grrrssddc

    Nostger Grrrssddc

    5 dögum síðan

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

  16. foxopossum


    5 dögum síðan


  17. sween187


    6 dögum síðan

    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.

  18. Neil Yates

    Neil Yates

    6 dögum síðan

    Proof that educated people are the dumbest on Earth.

  19. Jeredan Surgeon

    Jeredan Surgeon

    6 dögum síðan

    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.

  20. LittleEzra009


    7 dögum síðan

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

  21. noah


    8 dögum síðan

    Name's Noah, without a G

  22. nel blop

    nel blop

    8 dögum síðan

    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. 😅

  23. Roy Fisher

    Roy Fisher

    8 dögum síðan

    When did garage become a British slang word?

  24. Potato Maximus

    Potato Maximus

    8 dögum síðan

    reminds me of boneless pizza

  25. Jack F

    Jack F

    8 dögum síðan

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

  26. 勇樹


    9 dögum síðan

    Dehydrated water

  27. Ryo Hazuki

    Ryo Hazuki

    9 dögum síðan

    Clearly hasn't heard of the Beef Tomato

  28. Herm Ask

    Herm Ask

    9 dögum síðan

    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

      4 dögum síðan

      @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 ??!

      5 dögum síðan

      Is Japan warmer than Germany ?

  29. Sara Olmstead

    Sara Olmstead

    9 dögum síðan

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

  30. Floorgle


    9 dögum síðan

    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

  31. Dios Chotil

    Dios Chotil

    9 dögum síðan

    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

  32. Richard Bilton

    Richard Bilton

    9 dögum síðan

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

  33. nakwada


    10 dögum síðan

    Tom Scott, feat. Integza :D

  34. Chris Orbz

    Chris Orbz

    10 dögum síðan

    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.

  35. Asashi


    10 dögum síðan

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

  36. Skiniver


    10 dögum síðan

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

  37. bcubed72


    10 dögum síðan

    "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.

  38. Mildred The Goat

    Mildred The Goat

    10 dögum síðan

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

  39. Gloweye


    11 dögum síðan

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

  40. pandaman


    11 dögum síðan

    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

  41. W.2026


    11 dögum síðan

    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


      Degi Síðan síðan

      @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

      Degi Síðan síðan

      @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


      11 dögum síðan

      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

  42. GlowstoneLove Pad

    GlowstoneLove Pad

    11 dögum síðan

    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


      11 dögum síðan

      Nobody nose

    • Václav Jebavý

      Václav Jebavý

      11 dögum síðan

      is that a hanging participle or one of those thingies

  43. GlowstoneLove Pad

    GlowstoneLove Pad

    11 dögum síðan

    0:09 Esbes Tchi Mna-free cereal.

  44. Audrey Vann

    Audrey Vann

    11 dögum síðan

    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.

  45. Dr. Revenant Blunt

    Dr. Revenant Blunt

    11 dögum síðan

    Why are your videos so short?

  46. SnowblindOtter


    11 dögum síðan

    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.

  47. Tourniquet Connoisseur

    Tourniquet Connoisseur

    12 dögum síðan

    I don’t subscribe to the maxim of relation

  48. Amy Ebert

    Amy Ebert

    12 dögum síðan

    "The student always tried their best"

  49. Víkingur Sigurðsson

    Víkingur Sigurðsson

    12 dögum síðan

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

  50. Will Lee Rock

    Will Lee Rock

    12 dögum síðan

    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.

  51. Cosmo K

    Cosmo K

    12 dögum síðan

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

  52. Dan


    12 dögum síðan

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

  53. Pawit Ninnabodee

    Pawit Ninnabodee

    12 dögum síðan

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

  54. Elenor Steuernagel

    Elenor Steuernagel

    12 dögum síðan

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

  55. Raphaël Atherill

    Raphaël Atherill

    13 dögum síðan

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

  56. Devosaur


    13 dögum síðan

    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.

  57. AK Nephtali

    AK Nephtali

    13 dögum síðan

    Ah yes, I do love non genetically modified pillows.

  58. Darren W

    Darren W

    13 dögum síðan

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

  59. Sole Ice

    Sole Ice

    13 dögum síðan

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

  60. RanMind YT

    RanMind YT

    13 dögum síðan

    I ate uranium-free eggs today

  61. Dylyn02


    13 dögum síðan

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

  62. Daniel Burns

    Daniel Burns

    13 dögum síðan

    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"

  63. OuroborosChoked


    13 dögum síðan

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

  64. Augusto Feyh

    Augusto Feyh

    13 dögum síðan

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

    • Neil Lunavat

      Neil Lunavat

      12 dögum síðan

      This is getting so boring ugh

  65. Me Potter

    Me Potter

    13 dögum síðan

    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.

  66. c0nceited


    13 dögum síðan

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

    • Tony Borell

      Tony Borell

      5 dögum síðan

      nice try matt gaetz

  67. Wild Trek

    Wild Trek

    13 dögum síðan

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

  68. helzzzz1111


    14 dögum síðan

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

  69. Ignacio Mireille

    Ignacio Mireille

    14 dögum síðan

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

  70. Voltaic Fire

    Voltaic Fire

    14 dögum síðan

    I prefer human Tom Scott videos.

  71. Tadhg Pidgeon

    Tadhg Pidgeon

    14 dögum síðan

    I'm surprised there's no comment about B O N E L E S S P I Z Z A

  72. Andrew Friend

    Andrew Friend

    14 dögum síðan

    Brits call gas stations garages? That makes no sense. Y'all don't even speak English anymore.

  73. Wmff George

    Wmff George

    14 dögum síðan

    I could esaly grow a tomato that would proberhably not be suitable for vegans.

  74. Tim G

    Tim G

    14 dögum síðan

    There is a kind of tomato called the beefsteak tomato, which sounds a bit un-vegan.

  75. Alex Plante

    Alex Plante

    14 dögum síðan

    I guess the tomatoes would be bug-free

  76. Haiiry Cake

    Haiiry Cake

    14 dögum síðan

    Ah. Theres a group of people that do the opposite though. They assume the other person is always lying. They assume what is being said is always related to their pet peeve, nothing else. They assume there's always a hidden meaning. And they are never clear

  77. Fudge Merchant

    Fudge Merchant

    15 dögum síðan

    I want asbestos free cereal

    • ILikeSnakesDealWithIt


      14 dögum síðan


  78. Bart Simpsonn

    Bart Simpsonn

    15 dögum síðan

    Or u have adhd and those rules seem logica... untill your talking

    • ILikeSnakesDealWithIt


      14 dögum síðan


  79. Ranibow Sprimkle

    Ranibow Sprimkle

    15 dögum síðan

    Boneless pizza

  80. Ranibow Sprimkle

    Ranibow Sprimkle

    15 dögum síðan

    I can finally say boneless pizza and it's actually related to the video

  81. Sam Horton

    Sam Horton

    15 dögum síðan

    Is a tomato grown using manure or blood, fish and bone fertilizer still a 'vegan tomato'?

  82. I.O.N. Prod

    I.O.N. Prod

    15 dögum síðan

    Nobody's talking about boneless pizza?

  83. wyrmofvt


    15 dögum síðan

    Now I want to make a non-vegan tomato in truth.

  84. C99kies


    16 dögum síðan

    boneless pizza



    16 dögum síðan

    Hey can I get uhh... *BONELESS PIZZA*

  86. J810 __

    J810 __

    16 dögum síðan

    Grasshopper free applesauce

  87. Razvan Efros

    Razvan Efros

    16 dögum síðan

    Let me get uuuuh, a boneless pizza

  88. HailAnts


    16 dögum síðan

    In America his example of, “there’s a garage down the street” would no longer be said or apply. Garages are car repair shops that no longer sell gasoline. You’d only say ‘gas station’..

  89. aXios


    16 dögum síðan

    Mans made a video essay explaining why the "boneless pizza" video is funny.

  90. Son


    16 dögum síðan

    Boneless pizza

  91. Polygon Death

    Polygon Death

    16 dögum síðan

    TIL british people call gas stations “garages”

  92. Matthew Campbell

    Matthew Campbell

    16 dögum síðan

    With the computer NPC thing, I'd say a good demonstration is actually when they repeat lines. Technically, the line still works, it's just the fact that they already said it that's weird.

  93. Emron A

    Emron A

    17 dögum síðan

    When the vegan tomato is SUS 😯

  94. stephen burden

    stephen burden

    17 dögum síðan

    One of my favorite videos. Thank you so much, Tom.

  95. Stirling Newberry

    Stirling Newberry

    17 dögum síðan

    Ads don't work this way.

  96. Max Kimmings

    Max Kimmings

    17 dögum síðan

    Played bugsnax recently. A vegan tomato is definitely something that I would be interested in

  97. AnnoyingMoose


    17 dögum síðan

    As a script writer I have to say that this is one of THE BEST videos about dialog writing!

  98. KitMellow


    17 dögum síðan

    Somebody once asked "Could I spare some change for gas, I need to get myself away from this place." I said "Yep, what a concept, I could a little fuel myself and we could all use a little change."

  99. darkanzali


    17 dögum síðan

    00:05 actually I saw "gluten free" vegetables and fruits in a shop in my town.. aaand I was disgusted by the marketing idiot who made it up

  100. E3kHatena


    17 dögum síðan

    Saw “Non-GMO Sea Salt” at a Whole Foods once and I have never been the same since.