The aim of this study is to investigate the speech act of persuasion used by Saudis learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Moreover, I seek to explore the differences between genders in the use of these strategies. The participants are 50 males and 50 females at level 7 of their bachelor’s degree in English. Data are collected using the Discourse Completion Test (DCT) method, which contains six scenarios similar to real-life situations. Data are analysed quantitatively using the Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project nine-point rating scale, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, and Chi-square. The results of the DCT reveal that Saudi EFL learners use more direct strategies in English, namely hedge performatives and performatives. In addition, males are shown to be more inclined to use direct persuasive strategies compared to females. This research will benefit language learners, teachers, and researchers, as it highlights linguistic aspects of the speech act of persuasion that should be considered when learning and teaching a foreign language. The implications of this study inspire future research into different aspects of speech acts.
EFL, linguistics, persuasion, pragmatics, speech acts, Saudi