Conversation vs dialog What is the difference?

Learning Jan 02, 2023

Many English students do not know what the difference is between conversation and dialog. The reason for this is that many people believe them to be the same. But this is not true.

If you are looking to improve your knowledge of English, then continue reading.

What is a conversation

Not many people realise this, but there is a BIG difference between conversation and dialog.

A conversation is when two or more people are having a discussion about any topic. Yes, you read that correctly, ANY topic. 

Conversations are generally informal which means when you are talking to someone you can tell each other stories, make jokes, talk about something personal, you name it! Conversation is generally used to refer to a discussion that takes place in person, meaning face-to-face.


Jennifer: Hey! How did your English level exam go? 

Michael: Oh, it went really well except conversation part. But I need to take more conversational classes. How about you … how’d your presentation go? 

Jennifer:  Not bad, thanks. I’m just glad it’s over!  Thanks for helping me with it! 

Michael: No problem. So … do you feel like studying tomorrow for our math exam? 

Jennifer: Yeah, sure! Come over around 10:30, after breakfast. 

Michael: All right. I’ll bring my notes.

What is a dialog?

 Dialog on the other hand can only take place between two people. A dialog can be both formal and informal depending on what the two people are discussing

 Dialog is used for a purpose. This means that there is a reason for the discussion. A dialog is made up of mostly questions, answers, and requests. Why? Because it helps to keep the discussion going. 

 Dialog is mainly used in literature, films, plays, and books because it helps to indicate a discussion that is taking place between characters.


Journalist: Hello, my name is Mr. Martin. I am a reporter for BBC and have an appointment to meet Mr. Kevin.

Assistant: You will have to wait for some time since Mr. Kevin is in a meeting right now.

Journalist: How long will the meeting last?

Assistant: It should be over in about 20 minutes.

Journalist: That’s fine with me.

Assistant: Would you like some tea?

Journalist: I would like some tea please, thank you.

Assistant: You’re welcome. Please have a seat. I will let you know as soon as Mr. Kevin is free.

Journalist: I appreciate your cooperation.

What is the difference between conversation and dialog?

It is understandable why people often confuse conversation with dialog  because both these are used in a similar way, however, when using them correctly they should be used for different purposes in different ways. 

Dialog  is primarily used for discussions in a written form where conversations are used to share your thoughts and opinions in person.

Examples of a conversation:

He told me he saw a strange-looking bird today.

I believe that we can achieve our goals if we work together.

When you want to write a dialog, it is very important that you use quotation marks to indicate that someone has said something. The reason for the quotation marks is so that reader can identify what is the narration and what are the spoken words of the characters.

Examples of a dialog:

Where are you going? John asked.

Megan came running toward me screaming, Stop! I need to tell you something.

When do you use conversation and dialog?

We use conversation every single day! In English when we talk about conversation, we are referring to discussions that can take place ANYWHERE, such as at the gym, in the shops, and when casually talking to family or friends. 

Conversation is the primary form of communication with others. It is important to note that when you are conversating with someone it must be a two-way street, meaning each person must get a chance to speak and give their opinion.

Dialog is used when you want to write a discussion in plays, books, and films. Dialog is very important in written work because it helps to strengthen the plot of a story, indicate what someone is feeling or thinking, and assist in the general flow of narration.

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