Advice is a weak directive whose illocutionary force is to suggest a future action to the hearer that the adviser believes will benefit the hearer (Searle, 1969). Similar to requests, the speaker intends for the hearer to complete a future action; however, advising is not telling a hearer what to do but rather telling them what action is best for them. Upon giving advice, the speaker does not intend or believe that he or she is committing the hearer to a future action. Instead, the speaker expresses that a future action that was previously not obvious to the hearer would be ideal.
Advice is not associated with any one sentence type because it can appear in declarative, imperative, and interrogative sentences. Using declaratives or imperatives, advice can be realized directly. Additionally, conventionally indirect and non-conventionally indirect realizations via interrogatives and declaratives are also common where advice may be potentially face-threatening (Brown & Levison, 1987). In English, the speaker typically does not use an imperative or an advising verb, and simply presents a potential alternative as a conventionally indirect strategy. On the other hand, Harrison & Barlow (2009) found that non-conventionally indirect advice in the form of personal narratives were the most common response to individual care plans posted in arthritis forums, in which the recipient can choose (or not choose) to incorporate components of the advice giver's routine into their own.
Advice across languages
Cross cultural norms for advice between English and Spanish predicate the acceptability of direct advice. In Spanish, advice is not seen as a face-threatening act, but rather a solidarity-building tool. Hernández Flores (1997) observed that Peninsular Spanish speakers assert their self identity through giving advice because the act itself is a statement of the speakers beliefs. Additionally, direct advice is a symbol of high confianza or closeness among the interlocutors.
In Spanish, high levels of confianza allow speakers to give unsolicited, direct advice (e.g., ¿Por qué no traes cisnes?) (Hernández Flores, 1999). This enhances and performs self-affirmation and the level of confianza between interlocutors. Giving or rejecting advice appears not to be a face-threatening act in Peninsular Spanish (Hernández Flores, 1999).
In English, direct advice is dispreferred as it does not allow the interlocutor independence to decide for themselves. Conventionally or non-conventionally indirect advice is preferred (e.g., personal narratives in health care) (Harrison & Barlow, 2009). Additionally, direct advice can be tolerated if there are indirect acts of advice that support it (Locher, 2006).