A standard action allows you to do something, most commonly to make an attack or cast a spell. Using a standard action to attack is sometimes also called an attack action. Standard actions may only be performed during your turn.
Some combat options (such as using Cleave (Feat)) are standard actions that allow you to make an attack. These options can't be combined with other actions requiring a standard action, such as most combat maneuvers (e.g. trip or dirty trick). This rule even applies to full-attack and full-round actions, since you never get more than one standard action in a round.
A standard action can be degraded to a move action or a swift action. However, a standard action is the most time-consuming of these three action types, so neither move actions nor swift actions can be converted up to a standard action. Even combining your move and swift actions together is not enough to perform an additional standard action during your turn.
Common uses for standard actions include:
- Melee, ranged or unarmed attacks
- Activating a magic item
- Aid Another
- Cast a spell
- Drink a potion
- Using Maneuver Defense to escape a grapple
- Lowering Spell Resistance
- Reading a scroll
- Readying an action
- Stabilize a dying creature
- Total Defense
- Draw a concealed weapon