No generally accepted definition of conversation exists, beyond the fact that a conversation involves at least two people talking together. Consequently, the term is often defined by what it is not. A ritualized exchange such as a mutual is not a conversation, and an interaction that includes a marked status differential (such as a boss giving orders) is also not a conversation. An interaction with a tightly focused topic or purpose is also generally not considered a conversation. Summarizing these properties, one authority writes that "Conversation is the kind of speech that happens informally, symmetrically, and for the purposes of establishing and maintaining social ties."
From a less technical perspective, a writer on etiquette in the early 20th century defined conversation as the polite give and take of subjects thought of by people talking with each other for company.
is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational interaction.
Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous between two or more people. Typically, it occurs in , as written exchanges are usually not referred to as conversations. The development of conversational skills and is an important part of . The development of conversational skills in a new language is a frequent focus of and .