Qualitative research methods are an appropriate way to address questions on understandings, feelings and experiences of people in the context of palliative care. They make an assumption that language reflects objective reality. An alternative position is taken by discourse analysis methods, which are concerned with investigating how language and written texts are used to shape and influence behaviours, and provide ways of constructing the world. This paper argues that discourse analysis has benefits in revealing taken-for-granted and hidden aspects of palliative care. These advantages include revealing how common words and terms are used to invoke social practices, knowledge and power, which shape the meaning and delivery of palliative care in different contexts. Advice on conducting discourse analysis is provided, along with two exemplar studies. Finally, we indicate the potential contributions, the disadvantages and the ethical considerations required in using this approach to research.