This paper challenges claims made by Scrum proponents when characterising the
communicative nature of user stories: including being more ‘authentic’ because they comprise
spoken language and that they are stories. We argue and decisively demonstrate that neither
can be upheld. By incorrectly characterising user stories, we miss opportunities to understand
what they are and how they work during development. User stories are better understood by
applying a functional theory of communication that emphasises how language is used. By
selecting systemic functional linguistics, we can analyse user stories, and have developed a
method for factoring unwanted epics into usable user stories.