The Social Function of the Text: Meaning and Usage

by Anne B. Robinson

Did you know that there are around 2,700 languages with over 7,000 individual dialects spoken worldwide today?

Language truly is a magical thing. After all, it’s the key to human communication, and every key needs a lock to fit in, which in the case of languages, is the social function.

Let’s get to know the social function of the text.

What Is the Social Function of Language?

The social function of language refers to how we use and relate the language to relationships and encounters with other people. It also refers to how we use the language in different social settings and situations.

For example, your usage of language will differ if you’re in a classroom, hanging out with friends, or at a doctor’s appointment. Depending on your situation, and the people you’re addressing, the social function will differ.

The Different Types of Text

To determine the social function in different situations, let’s get to know different kinds of text and their structure.

1. Descriptive Text

Descriptive text is a type of text that describes both living and non-living things. It can be a place, a person, or a thing.

Generic Structure

Descriptive texts consist of two parts.

  • Identification: The identification section consists of the topic that’s about to be described.
  • Description: The description section is where details about the identified topic are.

Commonly Used Grammar

One of the main features of descriptive text is the use of clear, simple sentences, which makes sense if you think about it.

From a reader or listener’s perspective, it would be better for a description to be simple and to the point, right?

This brings us to the second feature. The most commonly used tense in the descriptive text is the simple present tense.

Social Function

As we just mentioned, the social function is how you relate and use the language in various situations.

So, in the case of descriptive text, the main goal would be to describe your objective as simply and clearly as possible.


Let’s take a look at this text together. It discusses Erlenmeyer flasks:

An Erlenmeyer flask, also referred to as a titration or conical flask, is a laboratory flask that has a flat bottom, and a cylinder-like neck.

These types of flasks are named after German-born chemist Emil Erlenmeyer (1825-1909), who created them in 1860

A well-known difference between Erlenmeyer flasks and beakers is their narrow necks and tapered body. Its tapered sides allow the content inside to be mixed by stirring safely, without the risk of spillage and waste.

Erlenmeyer flasks also support filter funnels, which can be helpful in many chemical processes.”

If you take a look at the text, you’ll notice that it begins with identifying the object of discussion and proceeds with describing it in a simple, direct manner.

2. Review Text

Review text focuses on reviewing and describing various things. It can be anything like a product, a newly opened restaurant, or a newly released movie.

Generic Structure

Review text consists of three sections.

  • Orientation: The orientation section begins by introducing the topic under review and gives an idea about what to expect.
  • Evaluation: you’ll find a detailed critique of the object under review in this section. Its advantages and disadvantages, as well as the reviewer’s personal opinion on the matter.
  • Evaluation summation: This section concludes the review and gives the final verdict on whether the object under review is a good recommendation or not.

Commonly Used Grammar

You’ll find that review text is always full of adjectives, and the usage of long clauses and various metaphors is also very common.

When it comes to tenses, review text will mostly have a mixture of simple present and past tenses.

Social Function

The main purpose of the review text is to give a professional and helpful critique of the targeted object so the reader can form an opinion about it based on that.


A common example of review text can be found in various movie and tv show reviews, as well as reviews about different restaurants that are published by many respectable critics.

3. Narrative Text

Generic Structure

There are five parts of the generic structure in narrative text.

  • Orientation: The orientation section is like the introduction of the story. It introduces the setting, characters, place, and time. It gives you a basic idea of the story you’re about to get into.
  • Evaluation: This section is mostly optional, it gives the reader a chance to evaluate the condition of the story before digging deeper. But it’s not a necessary part of the text.
  • Complication: This is where the story gets interesting. This section presents the reader with the obstacles and trials the characters go through in the story.
  • Resolution: Where there’s a complication, there’s a resolution, right? This is the section where the reader is given the conclusion of how the characters deal with the trials and complications they were put through. The purpose of this section is to give the reader closure of the journey they’ve experienced with the characters of the story.

Commonly Used Grammar

If you’re a bookworm like myself, then you’ve probably noticed that in most books, the simple past tense is the most common.

The narrative text also focuses on the use of temporal conjunctions and circumstances, as well as verbal, relational, and mental processes.

Social Function

You know when you put down a book after finishing it, and keep looking at it in amazement at the journey you’ve just gone through? That’s when you know that narrative text served its purpose.

The most important thing in the narrative text is giving the reader a rich, entertaining experience to remember.


If you’re looking for an example of narrative text, you’ll find it in any book lying on your shelf, or your novel collection.

So, just open up your favorite book, take a close look at the pages and structure, and you’ll find the answers you need!

Final Words

Hopefully, with the aid of the information shared in this article, you’ll now be able to distinguish the social function of the text along with its different uses.

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