The action of proposing has been studied from various perspectives in research on talk-in-interaction, both in mundane as well as in institutional talk. Aiming to exemplify Interactional Linguistics as a drawing together of insights from Linguistics and Conversation Analysis, we explore the grammar of proposals and the stances displayed by participants in making proposals in the context of joint activities, where a future or hypothetical activity is being put forth as something the speaker and recipient(s) might do together. Close examination of interactions among American English-speaking adults reveals four recurrent grammatical formats for issuing proposals:
Let’s, Why don’t we, Modal Declaratives, and Modal Interrogatives. We argue that these four formats for doing proposing within a joint activity are used in socially distinct environments, contributing to a growing understanding of the fit between entrenched linguistic patterns and the social work they have evolved to do.