branch of linguistics about how context contributes to meaning, studying implicature, speech acts, relevance and conversation

Pragmatics is the study of meaning in language in a particular context. People who study pragmatics are called pragmaticians.

This includes the place where the thing is said, who says it, and the things that you have already said. Also, pragmatics studies how people speak when they both know something.

Pragmatics studies how people speak not literally, but in an indirect way. It studies why people can still understand each other even though they don't speak literally. It also studies how people can understand each other even if the words are ambiguous.

The ability to understand what someone intends to tell you is called pragmatic competence.[1]

Pragmatics has a lot in common with other areas of linguistics, like syntax (which studies the way words are put together into sentences) and semantics (which studies what words and phrases mean). Some theories of pragmatics overlap with these areas.


  1. Koike, Dale April (September 1989). "Pragmatic Competence and Adult L2 Acquisition: Speech Acts in Interlanguage". The Modern Language Journal. 73 (3): 279–289. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1989.tb06364.x. ISSN 0026-7902.