when you say "i win" before or after you win a game. Is it a performative verb? If it's not why do you use it?

  • Seems performative to me. Why do you think it might not be?
    – gotube
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 3:59
  • 1
    @gotube Because the answer can be "no you don't I can capture your bishop" or "No you don't, my score is higher." In short saying "I win" does not make it so. More examples in my answer. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 4:27

1 Answer 1



"I win" describes the situation. It does not create the situation. That is, one doesn't win a game simply by saying "I win", not in any usual game. I suppose that if one player is the king, and the other is the court jester, when the king says "I win" then the king has won. Its good to be the king. That use would be performative , but usual uses would not be.

One says "I win" while playing a game to indicate that the speaker has now won. "I win" thus means the same as 'I have just won. In that sense it describes a state of things.

"I win" can also be a prediction. In that sense it is short for "The state of the game is such that I am sure to win."

Consider a game of chess. One player (perhaps white) can say "I win" just after checkmating the other player. Or white can say "I win" after making a move which ensures that white n force a mate, perhaps in 5 or 10 moves.

A performative verb is one where a person makes the satemetn true just by saying it.

If I person says:

You're trespassing, I order you to leave.

then "order" is performative. Just by saying it, it is true, the person has given that order.

Other examples:

  • When a dictator says "I decree X" it is performative, that decree has been issued.
  • When a minister or judge says "I now pronounce you man and wife" that ios performative. They have been so pronounced.
  • When anyone says 'I promise to pay this loan" that is performative . The person has just mad that promise.
  • When a person says "I agree to X" then by sayign that, the person has agreed. It is performative
  • When a member of a town council says "I vote for Smith's proposal" it is performative . By saying that, the council member has voted.
  • When a Judge says "I rule ..." it is performative; by saying that the judge has ruled.

In short when the verb describes making a statement or a decision, adn that of saying so makes it true, it is performative.

Moat of these cases can also apply to writing something down, when writing it makes it true. The judge may give a ruling, or the dictator make a decree, or anyone may make a promise, by writing it down.

  • so you can use present simple to describe current situation? I have never been taught about that. what is this usage called?
    – SA LEM
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 15:34
  • and why don't you use I'm winning instead?
    – SA LEM
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 15:41
  • @SA LEM I don't know a term for this usage. It is probably more formally correct to say "I have won". Using "I win" is shorter, and is in common usage by native speakers. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 16:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .