Vocabulary for Building Alexa Skills, Google Actions

If you’re starting to build an Alexa Skill (or a Google Action), the terms used in the official Amazon/Google documentation may sound a little scary at first. But once you read this blog post, you’ll be scared no more! Yes, I guarantee it 🙂

BTW, if haven’t done so yet, check out the following video first:

Let’s start by covering the 3 terms you’ll see often when building an Alexa Skill…

Alexa Skill: Intent, Utterance, and Slot


Intent is an action the user is trying to accomplish with your skill. For example, let’s say you’re creating an Alexa Skill named Pizza Finder that helps users find and order pizza.

Here are a couple of intents your skill may have:

  • FindBestDeals
  • OrderPizza


Utterance is a specific phrase the user says when requesting something from your skill. For example:

  • Find the best deal for a large pepperoni pizza.
  • What’s the best price for a large 3-topping pizza?
  • Find the best price for a large pepperoni pizza with at least 4 stars.
  • Get me the best prices for a large pizza with 3 toppings.

When building a skill – you should enter as many sample utterances as you can, for each of the intents in your skill. This helps the Alexa AI learn and handle the user’s request smoothly via the conversational voice interface.


Slot is a part of the utterance that has specific details about the user’s request. Slots are written with curly braces and represent variables in your skill. For example:

  • Find the best deal for a {size} {topping} pizza.


  • Find the best deal for a {size} {numberOfToppings} topping pizza.

In the examples above, there are 3 slots – Size, Topping, Number of Toppings – that convey specific details about the user’s request.

Alexa has several built-in slot types, such as numbers, date, etc. But you can also create custom slot types.

Clear so far? Alright, now let’s look at the terms Google Actions uses to refer to Intent, Utterance and Slot…

Google Action: Intent, Training Phrase, and Parameter

Got questions/thoughts? Post a comment…


About the Author:

Hey I'm Michael, I live in California. I've worked in the tech industry for about 20 years, mostly in silicon valley. My other interests include video games, sci fi, and hot sauces! Thanks for stopping by.

Post a Comment

2 Comments on "Vocabulary for Building Alexa Skills, Google Actions"

Photo and Image Files

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I thought Entity is Google’s term for Slot. Is that not the case?